Pan Macmillan has paid tribute to the late American crime writer Sue Grafton as "a giant in her field" and "an amazing author" who "cared about her readers first and last".
Grafton died aged 77 in Santa Barbara, California, on 28th December 2017 following a two-year battle with cancer. "She was surrounded by family, including her devoted and adoring husband Steve," her daughter Jamie Clark said.
Pan Macmillan published Grafton's "alphabet series", a series of murder mysteries that each begin with a different letter of the alphabet and feature private investigator Kinsey Millhone, since 1982. Before turning her hand to writing novels, Grafton also worked as a television screenwriter.
Mantle publisher Maria Rejt praised Grafton as someone who not only "embodied professionalism" but was "gentle, beautiful, and kind, with exquisite manners and a piercing sense of humour, unfailingly supportive to new authors and disarmingly modest about her own success".
"Sue Grafton wrote some of the most perfect and accomplished mystery novels in a genre not short of soaring talents," said Rejt. "Choose a letter, any letter, in her alphabet series and you are instantly in the company of a new friend: Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey marched to her own drum, but however dark her journey she would always - and fearlessly - lead you back into the light."
She continued: "As an author Sue embodied professionalism. She cared about her readers first and last. And as a person Sue put paid to that old adage: never meet your heroes. She was gentle, beautiful, and kind, with exquisite manners and a piercing sense of humour, unfailingly supportive to new authors and disarmingly modest about her own success."
Fiction publisher Jeremy Trevathan and Rejt both said it was "so sad" Grafton could not complete the last novel in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series, Z is for Zero. The author's last book of the set, Y is for Yesterday, was published by Pan Macmillan's imprint Mantle in August. It will be the last in the series, her daughter Jamie confirmed last week, because "she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name".
Trevathan said: "Sue Grafton was an amazing author we’ve had the privilege to publish for over 20 years and whose influence on the international crime fiction genre was marked by being awarded a Diamond Dagger by the CWA in the UK. She was a giant in her field who will be sorely missed by her many fans across the world.
"It’s so sad that she did not manage to get to the final letter of the alphabet in her iconic Kinsey Millhone alphabet series of novels."
Rejt added: "It is so very sad to realise that her final masterpiece, Z is for Zero, will be denied us, that Kinsey’s final sign-off will remain unknown, but much as it is a life cruelly interrupted it is all the more one to celebrate and cherish.
"Pan Macmillan published Sue’s first Kinsey Millhone novel in 1982 in the UK and her last in 2017. It has been an extraordinary privilege throughout."