RIP Sue Grafton and Bill Moody

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  • 26 Jan 2018 at 1:29 pm #10101

    Richard L.

    Sue Grafton died December 28th, quickly, though she had been fighting cancer for a couple of years. I mentioned her over in the Nautilus thread because of her article about her writing down questions for her unconscious to solve and grasping them immediately after waking from her slumbers. In plain language without the intermediary of symbol.

    She was a film writer in Hollywood, but she found her niche writing detective novels, first toying with the idea about how she would like to kill her ex-husband and making him her first fictional victim. Her strong protagonist was one of the first female private eyes. I became aware of her when the Louisville Courier-Journal ran a feature on her early novels, accompanied by a sharp picture of her carelessly pointing a handgun toward her privates. Bad taste, I said at the time. Ballsy, some said. Empowering for women, others said.

    She won me over; her character, Kinsey Millhone won me over. In her autobiographical volume, KINSEY AND ME, she says that she and her series character are “one soul in two bodies and Kinsey got the good one. . .the humor comes from Kinsey, and the acid observations. She is a marvel for which I take only partial credit, though she probably would take all the credit for me. It amuses me that I invented someone who has gone on to support me. It amuses her, I’m sure, that she will live in this world long after I am gone.”

    Her father was Louisville lawyer and also wrote some detective novels, some few signed copies of which I owned. I held them in line at a Sue Grafton book signing and she was delighted to sign her name under his, along with a news-clipping and some other proofs of provenance. I still have those books, though I doubt that there is much market for them now.

    The Internet is now full of fond recollections of her. Sue Grafton will be missed.


    Also newly deceased is jazz musician/author Bill Moody. I knew him only through his books, though I knew lots of his type, rare book dealers along the bohemian sections of Louisville’s Bardstown Road, where I used to hang out years ago. There were always dealers and customers glad to share stories of jazz, trumpet players, and old books.

    Moody wrote a string of mystery novels blending historical jazz fact with his fiction. A sub-genre of detective fiction unto itself, including:


    Axel Howerton’s HOT SINATRA.


    Mo Daviau’s EVERY ANXIOUS WAVE (well, involving also sci-fi and time travel)

    N. J. Campbell’s FOUND AUDIO (also involving sci-fi and chess)

    There has been a minor re-blooming of vinyl in the last few years, but nostalgia never lasts. Still I like to see books like THE REVENGE OF ANALOG: REAL THINGS AND WHY THEY MATTER by David Sax.

    And speaking of sax, one of life’s pleasures these days is to slow dance to a live band of old musicians, of which Louisville still has a dwindling few of Bill Moody’s archetype, playing, for instance, Santo and Johnny’s SLEEP WALK. Dancing as foreplay. One band I know even improvises the solo on trumpet. Followed by a cover of Dean Martin’s BESAME MUCHO.

    A friend of Bill Moody has posted:

    “We lost Bill yesterday. He was late for a gig and the musicians went looking for him. Great way to go. I hope musicians are looking for me when my time comes. We love you, Bill, and that wonderful lilting swing that propelled the music so well.”

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