Y Is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

 Y Is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  50,153 Ratings  ·  6470 Reviews
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Y Is for Yesterday
by Sue Grafton
The darkest and most disturbing case report from the files of Kinsey Millhone, Y is for Yesterday begins in 1979, when four teenage boys from an elite private school sexually assault a fourteen-year-old classmate—and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns state’s evidence and two of his peers are convicted. But the ringleader escapes without a trace.

Now, it’s 1989 and one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, has been released from prison. Moody, unrepentant, and angry, he is a virtual prisoner of his ever-watchful parents—until a copy of the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. That’s when the McCabes call Kinsey Millhone for help. As she is drawn into their family drama, she keeps a watchful eye on Fritz. But he’s not the only one being haunted by the past. A vicious sociopath with a grudge against Millhone may be leaving traces of himself for her to find…


Please note that there are spoilers for all previous events from prior books. Do not read if you have not read up to X by Sue Grafton.

You may recall my review for X and how frustrated I was with that book. I thought that the majority of that book was just filler. Kinsey felt off and Henry drove me nuts. It also seemed to have two stories smashed into one and neither of them worked. But with "Y is for Yesterday" Sue Grafton hits everything on such a pitch perfect level I have no qualms about saying this book is a five star read.

This book is going to be the end of 1989 for the Kinsey Millhone series. Z is for whatever it's going to stand for is I hope going to take place in 1990, but we'll have to see what tricks Sue Grafton has for us long time readers.

"Y is for Yesterday" has Kinsey taking a case that actually starts back in 1979. Kinsey is asked to find out who may be blackmailing a man just released from juvenile detention. Ten years ago, the man (Fritz) and his friends taped a gang rape. Though he was found guilty of murder as a juvenile, his family is afraid this tape may lead to him being incarcerated again.

I have to say that I love the fact that even though this book takes place in 1989 there's definitely some similarities to what's going on in the world today in this book. There's the question of rape, there's the question of getting consent, there's the question of violence against women and what do women do in order to fight back against that. I feel like all of those are discussion topics that are very relevant in today's world.

We have an older and finally wiser Kinsey. After a run in that almost left her dead, Kinsey decides to start taking some self defense classes, you as well as doing more security measures. She's had to change her routine, but she's doing what she can to stay safe while hoping to track down a serial killer. Her newest case gives her something to sink her teeth into which is leading Kinsey down a path that many would like her to leave alone. My favorite Kinsey is her fighting for the truth no matter what.

We have the usual suspects in this one. We have Henry, Rosie, William (in small doses thank God) Cheney Phillips, Kinsey's cousin Anna, and Jonah. We even have references to a lot of characters we haven't read or even interacted with in years. Heck we have Kinsey on the phone and hanging out with Vera.

I've really hated how isolated Kinsey felt to me in the past few books was just her interacting with Henry and Rosie. But this one definitely showcases how many people are connected to Kinsey, and how many people just love her.

I was really glad to finally see it seem to laying to rest her whole relationship with the missing Robert Dietz. And I think I see a game plan coming with regards to Cheney Phillips. It was good to read what was going on with him and finally having me not wanting to kick the crap out of him based on what I thought was going on with this character.

I do have to say though that the gullibility of Henry is starting to just work my nerves. But in this volume it ends up wrapping things up perfectly though with regards to another plot so I can't complain.

I honestly could not stand Kinsey's cousin Anna. I felt like she shoved her way into Kinsey's life and was trying to take over. But in this one we get some revelations about this character and I still don't understand how Kinsey didn't punch her in her face. But it definitely changes things for the good with the series so I'm kind of curious about where Grafton's going to go with this character next.

The writing was great and I cheered several times. Thank goodness Grafton makes a quick mention of the drought California is experiencing and moves on. No talk of water conservation.

"They were also committed to the notion of equality between the sexes, which spawned an unspoken competition to see who could force the other to knuckle under and pick up the slack."

"The odd but unremarkable truth about women is we’ve had the aggression bred right out of us."

“You’re denigrating my experience. Minimizing the impact. Guys are famous for putting women down. Why don’t you get over it? Why can’t you let it go?” she said mockingly. “What you really mean is, ‘Why make me eat shit for something that happened to you?’”

“I want to make sure you’re awake for this because I have one final word of advice. You don’t never want to mess with women, son. They will take you down.”

I thought that the flow in this book was really good. The books shifts perspective between Kinsey and her investigation and the events going on in her life, and then transitioning back to 1979 and focusing on different people who were involved in the events that led up to the murder of a young girl. You eventually can put two and two together and realize what happened with some of the key players but the final revelation I thought was great.

I always love visiting Santa Teresa and now in the 25th book this feels like such a real place to me with this town and this place that Kinsey calls home that I just would love to read about it for 25 more books.

I do have to say though I kind of wonder what is the end plan for Kinsey. At this point she has a ridiculous amount of money so she's just working and still living with Henry because she chooses to. She can move on anytime. She's now 39 years old so one wonders if she wishing for something new. The epilogue of the book ends in 1990, and now I wonder what's going to happen to Kinsey in this new era. The 1990s was what, the beginning of the AIDS crisis in America, more women in the workplace fighting for equality, we had a lot of scandals going on in America and worldwide, and we are going to start to see the rise of the computer age.

So I wonder if whenever we do get to the final volume with Z, where is that going to leave Kinsey. I hope it ends on a good note, I feel kind of scared like many readers did when JK Rowling was finishing with the Harry Potter series and people were begging her to please not kill Harry. So I'm just going to put that out there, please Sue's Grafton don't kill off Kinsey, I want her to have a happy ending.

I've read all these books and am looking forward to ending this series in a big way. I want to see Kinsey find her HEA, come to terms with her parents and extended family and, of course, solve a mystery. 
This case is eerily similar to an actual case from the OC about 10 years ago. It will be interesting to see Sue Grafton's take on it. The story shifts between May, 1979 and September, 1989 (present time for Kinsey). Exactly what the "mystery" is takes a while to develop. There is a lot of background and different view points on the events that happened in May, 1979, however, it is all fascinating and you need to pay careful attention.

Two events happened in May, 1979. A group of snotty nosed prep school asshats make a pono film. A girl, Sloan, is shot to death by someone she thought of as a friend. Eight years later the shooter, Fritz, is released from the CYA (California Youth Authority (Juvenile Jail)) upon his 25th birthday. Shortly after his release his parents receive a copy of the film and a ransom demand. Not wanting to pay up or send Fitz back to jail, Fitz's parents hire Kinsey to find the extortionist. In her downtime, Kinsey has to face the possibility that the man who tried to kill her, Ned Lowe, is back.

If you'd asked me around the 30% mark how much I was enjoying this book, my answer would have been that it would make a great last entry into the author's celebrated trip through the alphabet - titled Z is for Zzzzzzz. But somewhere around the halfway point, things started to pick up noticeably; by the end, it was considerably better than half bad - prompting me to bump up my rating to 4 stars from the 3 I'd expected.

So what accounted for my initial reaction? Right off the bat, I was put off by the flipping back and forth in time over a 10-year period as the backstory for the current action was developed. If the author ever used that technique in the past, I don't remember it, but it has become so over-used of late that at this point I almost cringe when I run into it even when it's done well, as it is here. And collectively between the then and now, so many characters made an appearance that it was hard for me to keep them all straight.

The action takes place in 1979 and 1989, and I noticed more than one anachronism. I was a fairly active follower of technology during that decade, and I'm pretty sure some of the equipment and processes mentioned in the 1979 accounts simply were not available at that time. I also noticed some errors that thorough copy-editing should have caught (never a good thing in my own professional copy-editor's eyes). Perhaps most distressing, though, is that the stars of the show, including private eye Kinsey Milhone and her elderly neighbor, Henry, exhibited almost none of the spunk and spirit I've come to know and love.

To a certain extent, I should have seen it coming; the official description calls it the "darkest and most disturbing case report" from Kinsey's case files. It takes place about a year after she narrowly misses death at the hands of killer Ned Lowe (a character from an earlier book). He's still on the loose, so Kinsey is always on the lookout, expecting him to show up and try again. To her credit, though, I'm sure that triple-checking locks, remembering to carry a gun and constantly looking over her shoulder would be enough to make anyone cranky.

As she's dealing with the not insignificant concern of personal ambush, Kinsey gets roped into a new case that's rooted in the 1979 murder of a teenage girl for which a juvenile was tried and convicted. He's now 25, just out of prison and once again living with his well-to-do parents. He's not happy to be back with an irritable father and all-forgiving wimpy mother, but neither are they: They've been sent a copy of a sex tape made 10 years earlier in which their son clearly has a leading role - and the sender is demanding $25,000 to not make it public. Both because of the personally damaging publicity and the real possibility that their precious son might be sent back to jail, the parents don't want anyone else to know about the tape - meaning the police - nor do they intend to fork over the cash. That puts Kinsey, who normally plays well with cops, in a bit of a bind - but she agrees to chase down the blackmailer.

Woven into the story are squirmishes, dalliances and other interactions between and among Kinsey's friends and co-workers, although much of that seems a bit lackluster compared to similar situations in previous books. As Kinsey investigates the case of the illicit tape, scenes shift back to 1979 and events leading up to, and including, the murder. Part of the ending is satisfying and another part isn't, perhaps paving the way for what is believed to be the final letter in the Kinsey Milhone series. And while I won't say this is anywhere near my favorite of the bunch - and yes, I've read 'em all - I really, really do hate to see them come to an end.

Well it was fun to be back reading the series. I’m very eager to read Z. Its publication is still 2 years away.

This book felt more like 2017 (sans computers, voice mail, cell phones, etc. technology) than it does 1989 & 1979, the 2 years when the action takes place. Otherwise it felt too modern with one of its central issues and some others. Similar events have made recent news but I don’t remember them from those previous decades.

It took me almost a full 3 weeks to read this, more my issue than the book’s, but I think had it been one of my favorite books of the series it would have taken 7-10 and not 20 days to read. 3-1/2 stars rounded up.

I guessed a LOT and knew a LOT before Kinsey did, but I think readers were meant to know most of what I figured out.

The story was seriously creepy at times and, for me, not great bedtime reading.

For my tastes there was too much about the kids/characters specific to this book, and not quite enough of Kinsey or the supporting regular characters, and definitely nowhere near enough of Henry. Henry is one of my favorite literary characters and I was so happy to see him, and Kinsey too, and Ed the cat is a hoot too, and a dog (two really) in this book were great, but none of them got enough page time to satisfy me.

I hope that Z is for Zero will focus on Kinsey and Henry and the other regulars.

I do love how this author does not wrap up everything neatly and perfectly and leaves the reader somewhat dissatisfied with outcomes. Brilliant choices, in my opinion.
Source: www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.com, www.nytimes.com

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