Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #7: Chosen

Snowbound Books in Marquette, Michigan

When I scan the shelves in a bookshop, sometimes a volume chooses me! Irresistible qualities include eye-catching titles, outstanding cover art, smells that spark memories, or an author’s name that rings a bell.

For about two years, I had the pleasure of living in Marquette, Michigan, situated in the Upper Peninsula and perched on the shores of Lake Superior. A variety of bookstores graced that town, but my absolute favorite was Snowbound Books, within walking distance from my home and pictured above. At that time, the store’s vintage paperbacks huddled together in one section, and I always checked them, on the hunt for Dell Map Backs or other interesting finds.

During one of my frequent visits, a 1950 Pocket Book Mystery entitled Beyond a Reasonable Doubt chose me to be its owner. I had nothing to say about it. The book wasn’t a Map Back, but I had to have it, all the same. The title wasn’t what grabbed me; it was the author’s name…C.W. Grafton. Could they be related? One of my favorite mystery authors is Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mystery series, beginning with A is for Alibi. Hundreds of mystery authors could have the last name Grafton, I supposed.

In those hazy years before the Internet, facts and details weren’t available instantaneously at our fingertips like they are today. Months passed before I knew the answer to my question. Yes, they were related! C.W. Grafton was Sue Grafton’s father, who practiced as a lawyer and published three mystery novels. My new collection search had been born!

Becky’s Collection

I don’t need much of an excuse to stop at a used bookstore or collectibles shop that might feature books. This new quest was one more reason to pull over when I saw a promising business sign. Decades went by, but I found all three! Which is my favorite? The paperback on the left is important, since it was the first. My purchase of The Rope Began to Hang the Butcher, on the right, was exciting because it was the last and completed this collection. The book shown in the middle, The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope, is my favorite, for two reasons. First, this copy still proudly wears its jacket, however tattered. Second, the book is dedicated to C.W.’s youngest child, Sue, his other daughter, Ann, and wife, Viv. The family is shown below with the book in a 1944 photo, with Sue on the right.

The Grafton Family in 1944

Over the years, I’ve read interviews in which Sue Grafton explains she was the survivor of a difficult childhood, due to both of her parents suffering from alcoholism. In her semi-autobiographical book, Kinsey and Me (2013), she credits her father with her own passion for the mystery genre, which served her well. Sue Grafton died in 2017, at age 77, just one book shy of the entire alphabet. I’ve read all her alphabet mysteries except the last one, Y is for Yesterday. Guess I don’t want them to end…

Sue Grafton



46 thoughts on “Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #7: Chosen

  1. What a very cool story. I have taken the Jeopardy test unsuccessfully many times and it always includes a Sue Grafton question. It was also a question this week on the show. What was going to be the name of Grafton’s last novel. What is Z is for Zero?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Loved reading about your book hunts in real actual bookstores 😁 and the Graftons. I know she wrote some books before the Alphabet series…maybe I will hunt them down. I read Y…you should. It’s so good. I read Kinsey and Me too. Maybe time to pull that one out of the cloud for a (re)read.

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  3. What a wonderful post. I’m so happy you found all the books. I did not know Sue Grafton had a difficult childhood. More and more I learn that that is the norm. How sad. It’s so exciting to have your collection complete and I’m happy for you. The bookstore looks wonderful and I just happen to LOVE the color blue that it’s painted.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I love this post and all the memories of bookstores it evoked. There’s a great
    BBC FUTURE article titled “The people trying to save scents from extinction”, and one of the scents they mention is that of old books! I love the smell of all my bookstore finds, especially my latest purchase: a Lutheran hymnal from the years I was growing up – the 50’s and 60’s! I swear I can smell the candles 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I am going to look up the Graftons. I love your book collecting stories as they have their own story. Sad that Sue Grafton didn’t get to write Z. I wonder if she started and what it might have been called?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I was immediately captivated by the photo of Snowbound Books. It’s a beautiful building to hold the book treasures inside. I like mysteries, but I’ve not read any of the Sue Grafton books. Your post has piqued my interest in remedying that!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. just reread this post; my friend who is a poet has begun a cozy mystery story in the mode of your author; she plans to write three; we’ll see — she has to complete one first; these books could form the basis of a series of films — such stories are always popular, as evidenced by the big box office of ‘Knives Out’

    Liked by 3 people

  8. That is a cute little book store. I believe in things that are meant to be even when we don’t know ourselves. Love this story. Reminds me of Harry Potter when he went to get his wand. The wand chooses the wizard. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’ve read most of Sue Grafton’s books too – the first when I was a rare female executive producer working in television and loved this strong feminist protagonist. She created such interesting characters, including her elderly landlord and several others. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

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