Sue Grafton

Journal Notes

"K" is for Killer


Well, I've now junked every thing I've done on 'K' IS FOR KILLER. Page after page of notes, three or four chapters, many approaches, none of which I managed to make work.

Starting off again with a fingertip stroll through my file called Homicide Set-Ups . . . pulling about four articles.

Here are some things I want to include:
Henry's birthday.
William and Rosie's wedding.
Maybe a plane trip just to get Kinsey out of Santa Teresa.

I went back and printed out large hunks of the G-Journal. It's so amazing to me to see the system at work. I'm hoping a new story will come into my consciousness. I've made my peace with the fact that this book will be late, but I still need to work just to make life worthwhile. Also for the fun of it when the process starts to cook.


Dear Shadow . . . Self . . . and Right Brain,

Doing everything I can here to make life possible. I've abandoned the old story . . . cleaned out my computer . . . sorted and tossed and filed away old notes and articles. Now I need help in launching myself again. Please speak to me. Please let me know where the new book is coming from. I really need your assistance and I'm hoping you'll spark something so I can get to work.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Love & kisses,

How about an old-fashioned unsolved murder case?
Parents are angry because nothing's been done.
Case is old & cold, with no new leads coming in.

Going back again to pick up the two charts I made for the books I've done.

1. lists the book, the sex of the victim, the motive for the murder, the sex of the killer, and the nature of the finale.

2. lays out the set-up for each book: who hires Kinsey Millhone and what she's hired to do.

In 'A' . . . Kinsey's hired to prove the innocence of a woman just out of prison on a conviction of murdering her husband.

In 'B' . . . Kinsey's hired to find a woman whose signature is re-quired on a minor document.

In 'C' . . . Kinsey's hired by a kid to find out who's trying to murder him.

In 'D' . . . Kinsey's hired to deliver a cashier's check to a fifteen year old boy.

In 'E' . . . Kinsey's hired to do an arson investigation at a manufacturing plant.

In 'F' . . . Kinsey's hired to prove an escaped inmate is innocent of the murder he's been convicted of.

In 'G' . . . Kinsey's hired to find a woman's missing mother.

In 'H' . . . Kinsey's hired to go undercover, investigating a case of automobile insurance fraud after a colleague at CF gets murdered in the parking lot.

In 'I' . . . Kinsey's hired to finish an investigation in an upcoming 'civil' murder trial after the P.I. who's on the case drops dead of a heart attack.

In 'J' . . . Kinsey's hired by California Fidelity to locate a 'dead' man whose 'widow' has just collect half a million dollars in insurance benefits.


How strange. I've really never had Kinsey hired to solve a murder. She's been hired twice to prove someone innocent of murder.
Hired to prove someone's guilt.
Hired to find missing persons.
Hired to go undercover.

Why not a straight-forward homicide investigation?
Who is the victim and what is the motive?


All right. Here I am again. Yesterday I decided to junk the book again. I had tried a second idea...this one about a kid accused of arson & his relationship to a kid with cerebral palsy who was a witness to a murder. I did some research at Laguna Blanca . . . just to look at boychicks in the 7/8th grade age range. Did some research at Cottage Hospital on the matter of cerebral palsy. I had an appointment with a woman who's in charge of the local foster care program, but I realized, as the day wore on, that the story-line wasn't sitting well so I decided to dump it. My original objection to the idea was that in writing about kids, puppy dogs, and kitty cats, there's a danger of being unbearably sentimental, cloying and false. The kids I saw, while smart, seemed like flat characters. Kids that age just don't have a lot of depth and complexity that I can see. Also with the kid suffering from cerebral palsy I run the risk of the inaccurate or the unpleasant. I'm still close enough to my experience with "H" to back off of that one. I think that people who read mystery novels want to be entertained. They don't want to squirm. So.

I off-loaded all those documents and here I am again.

This time, here's what I know. I think I want this book to take place almost exclusively at night.


How can that be?

Probably the victim worked at night and was murdered at night by another night-dwelling creature.

I think the victim is female. I think her parents are members of a group of families of homicide victims; people trying to deal with the pain of having someone close to them murdered. Maybe its even a group for parents of murdered children.

The questions are several:

Who was this girl?
How old was she?
Why was she killed?
Why wasn't the killer ever caught and convicted?
How does this family end up hiring Kinsey Millhone?

Maybe the body was too putrified to identify the cause of death, time of death, or manner of death.

Body in the cottage or apartment for a week after her death.
What other circumstances would make this case interesting?
Maybe I can use the porno film. I still like the idea of footage being shot long before the film comes out. At first it looks like she was alive. Then it looks like she's dead . . . which she is.

What is this girl's nature?
If she were punctual, proper, reliable, responsible, then the min-ute she failed to show up or to answer her phone, people would be suspicious.
Unless she said she was leaving town.
Suitcase & belongings gone?
Did anybody hear anything?
Anybody see anything?

What are the theories?

Maybe nobody knows until long after her death that she performed in porno films.
Double life . . .
Could she have disappeared?
If the body wasn't hers, why wasn't somebody else reported missing?
Maybe I can use that other article about the missing teenagers as an explanation.
Maybe Lorna Kepler was killed some place else and the body's been unidentified until Kinsey makes her search.

I like the idea of a camera . . . or photographs.
Where were these taken?
Do they connect to another homicide with the same telltale loca-tion?
What are the links between the two murder victims.
I'm always interested in a prominent person who kills to cover up some kind of scandal.
Maybe these two women knew more than they should.

I'm not sure I want pornography to be the point.
Maybe that's just the tip off that all was not what it seemed.

Okay . . . so this is a girl who leads a double life.
What age is she?
Probably 21 at least.
What's the scam?
What was her day job?
Maybe everyone assumes her death was connected to the porno films when in fact it's connected to the day work she does.
Maybe she works in some county office.
Some guy who wants to run for public office.

What are the theories?
Why do the parents think she was killed?
Los Angeles thugs . . . gamblers or the rackets.

Do the parents know about the porno film?
Is that something Kinsey discovers in the course of her investigation? Maybe the guy who wants to run for office sends the video to her, hoping to steer her in the wrong direction.
How does he know about it?
Was the film ever actually released?
Was it kept off the market because the girl was murdered? Nah.
Does Kinsey talk to the producer?
How did the politician get a copy of the film?
Was this an affair that she threatened to expose?
Did she uncover evidence of skullduggery?
That's a bit much like Libby Glass in "A" IS FOR ALIBI
The love affair, too.