Revenge: The Sue Grafton Way

Sue Grafton said she wrote her breakout novel, “A is for Alibi” to fulfill revenge fantasies during a bad divorce. Sue once told me that it saved her sanity to “kill the dude!” She’s now releasing her 22d Kinsey Millhone mystery, “V is for Vengeance,” which leads me to believe she’s still using this technique quite profitably.

Reading mysteries and other crime fiction is better than almost anything that doesn’t include Tom Selleck or Ryan Reynolds; but murdering people in fiction seemed a little extreme until I found out how therapeutic it can be. And it has the advantage over real murder of allowing us to skip the prison time.

Before I go further, let me ask you:

  • Have you experienced perfect air travel in the past, oh, ten years, or did your last weekend jaunt to Paris require twelve days with a side stop in Helsinki?
  • Pay a reasonable fare equal to a year’s salary or ten times as much as your first car?
  • Depart on time and without hassle, or five days late while bouncing like a sing-a-long ball?
  • Arrive in the same city as your luggage or half-way across the world from your favorite pajamas?

You’re beginning to see my point, right? Just a few more questions:

  • When your plane landed in the middle of a cornfield in the middle of the dark and stormy night instead of at the expected airport where loved ones waited, were you grateful to be on the ground safely, many hours from your destination?
  • When you rented a car and drove three hours without so much as a glass of water or a seeing-eye dog to navigate, did a local cop pull you over at 2:00 a.m. only ten miles from your coveted warm bed?
  • Did he say, very politely, that he’d stopped you for failing to dim your headlights within 500 feet of oncoming traffic when you were so bleary-eyed you had no strength to argue that the bright lights weren’t turned on and you’d encountered nothing but a possum parade for more than 50 miles?
Right. Point coming into closer focus, I’ll bet. Still unpersuaded? The last straws:
  • Despite exhaustion, did you want to wring the airline CEO’s neck with your bare hands? Punch out the cop? Stomp the poky possums? Would you be in jail right now if you had done any of that?

Now can you see how Sue Grafton’s plan is better? Just as I thought.

So before you start your next adventure, be it across the world or across the street, do what I do: pack a good book or fill up your e-readers with crime fiction. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy vicarious revenge. Thank you, Sue.

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Do you see what we see?

Ability to grasp the obvious is an essential life skill. Failure to perceive can be fatal. Or, as Judge Willa Carson says, “You never see the bullet that gets you.” It’s no wonder then, that it took me a while to grasp why artists on two continents chose mysterious eyes to adorn my novel covers. […]

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