An Analysis of the Detective Novel -F- is for Fugitive Written by Sue Grafton

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2002

17 Pages, Grade: 1,3 (A)

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1. Introduction

2. Biographical Notes on Sue Grafton

3. The Plot

4. Narrative Features

5. The Setting

6. The Female Detective Kinsey Millhone
6.1. Her Engagement in her Job as a Private Investigator
6.2. Her Outer Appearance
6.3. Her Relation to Other People
6.4. Her Way of Living
6.5. Kinsey – A “Hard-Boiled” Detective?

7. The Constellation of the Victim, the Detective and the Murderer
7.1. The Opposition of the Victim (Jean Timberlake) and the Detective
7.2. The Parallel to the Murderer (Ann Fowler)

8. Conclusion

9. Bibliography

1. Introduction

This paper is concerned with the detective novel “F” is for Fugitive written by the American author Sue Grafton. The novel will be discussed with regard to typical features of the detective story. Therefore, the first part of the paper deals with rather general elements such as the structure and the narrative features used in the novel. In the second part of the paper the emphasis is put on the characterization of the female detective Kinsey Millhone, who is the central character of the book. Her character will be looked at from different perspectives. Thus, her engagement in her job, her relation to other people, her outer appearance and her way of living will be analysed. Furthermore, it will be commented on the question whether she embodies a female variation of the American “hard-boiled” type of detective of the 1920s and 1930s.1Finally Kinsey’s position within the constellation of characters will be defined by looking at two other female characters of the story, which are the victim and the murderer. Within the comparison of these women the role their fathers played for their personal development will be scrutinized.

2. Biographical Notes on Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton was born on 24th April 1940 in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1961 she graduated at the University of Louisville with a major in English Studies and minors in Humanities and Fine Arts. After having finished her studies she worked in the medical field as an admissions clerk, cashier and clinic secretary at the St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica and later on as a medical secretary to a GP and as a medical education secretary at the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. Simultaneously she started to write novels. Her first novel “Keziah Dane” was published in 1967. After two broken marriages she married Stephen Frederick Humphrey in 1978. Together they adapted the novels “Caribbean Mystery” and “Sparkling Cyanide” written by Agatha Christie for television. Sue Grafton started her bestselling series of “Alphabet murder mysteries” with the novel “A” is for Alibi published in 1982. The novel “F” is for Fugitive was published in 1989. In June 2001 Grafton reached the letter “P” within the alphabet with her last novel of the series so far called “P” is for Peril.2

3. The Plot

The plot of the novel is set on two time levels. The first level is set in the early 80s and covers a time of about two weeks in February.3On this level the private investigator Kinsey Millhone is hired by Royce Fowler in order to prove the innocence of his son Bailey Fowler, who was pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter 17 years ago. He is blamed for having killed his ex-girlfriend, Jean Timberlake, a 17 year old high school senior, pregnant at the time when she was murdered.4Therefore, the second level of the plot refers to all the things that happened in the past, that means 17 years ago. It includes three mysteries:

1. Who murdered Jean Timberlake?

2. Who is the unknown father of Jean Timberlake?

3. Who is the father of the unborn child of Jean Timberlake?

Analyzing these questions one can state that the first one is the actual murder mystery. The second and the third question are of importance because answering them might help to reveal the identity of the murderer of Jean Timberlake. At least the answers help to explain why the murder on Jean Timberlake took place. They provide possible motivations for the murder.

Kinsey Millhone is trying to solve the three mysteries mentioned above on the first time level. On this level two further murders take place. These are the murder of Ori Fowler, who is the mother of Bailey and Ann Fowler and the murder on Shana Timberlake, who is the mother of Jean Timberlake. Thus, additionally to the murder mystery on Jean Timberlake Kinsey Millhone is confronted with the following questions on this time level:

1. Who murdered Ori Fowler? Why?

2. Who murdered Shana Timberlake? Why?

3. Is the murderer of Jean Timberlake, Ori Fowler and Shana Timberlake one and the same person? What is his/her motivation?

4. What is the connection between these murders?

Since the central topic of the novel is the search for the murderer of the women listed above, it can be said that the plot follows the classical “Whodunnit?-pattern” on both levels. Peter Nusser writes about the typical structure of the detective-story:

Die tragenden inhaltlichen Elemente der Handlung des Detektivromans sind erstens das rätselhafte Verbrechen (der Mord); zweitens die Fahndung nach dem Verbrecher (den Verbrechern), die Rekonstruktion des Tathergangs, die Klärung der Motive für die Tat; drittens die Lösung des Falles und die Überführung des Täters (der Täter). […] Die Fragen nach dem Täter (who?), dem Tathergang (how?) und dem Motiv (why?) können unterschiedlich stark akzentuiert werden, wodurch verschiedene Ausprägungen des Detektivromans entstehen.5

In “F” is for Fugitive the focus is set on the question of the identity of the murderer (who?) and on his/her motivation for committing the murders (why?). The ways the murders took place (how?) are of secondary importance, details about the acts of murdering are revealed up to a limited point only.

4. Narrative Features

The story is told by a first person narrator who is the investigating detective of the story. With regard to the narrative situation that means that the “narrating I” and the “experiencing I” melt together.6This becomes clear on the first page already when the narrator addresses the reader by saying:

My job was to figure out how to write the proper ending to the tale, not easy after so much time had elapsed.7

Evelyne Keitel marks this narrative situation as a typical feature of the female detective story of the 80s and 90s:

Die meisten der heutigen Detektivinnen fungieren als Protagonisten und als Ich-Erzählerinnen, erzählendes und erlebendes Ich verschmelzen zu einer einzigen Perspektive auf das Geschehen.8

In „F“ is for Fugitive the name and a first set of biographical facts about the detective are revealed by the detective himself in a kind of a self-presentation addressing the reader:

My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state of California, operating ordinarily in the town of Santa Teresa, ninety-five miles north of Los Angeles. […] I´m thirty-two years old, twice married, no kids, currently unattached and likely to remain so given my disposition, which is cautious at best.9

It remains indistinct whether the detective is a man or a woman because the sex is not explicitly mentioned. Furthermore the name “Kinsey Millhone“ is a sexually neutral name. It can be used for both: a male and a female character. The narrator reveals weak points of his or her character in the quoted self-evaluation in a very direct way. If one is of the opinion that women speak more frankly about themselves than men do, one might guess that one is confronted with a female character. Nevertheless, the facts themselves can also allude to the biography of a man. However, the first explicit naming of the sex of the detective takes place within the conversation between Ann Fowler and her father Royce when Ann refers to Kinsey by saying: “I’m not arguing, Pop. I’m just tellingher.”10

Since the action and the characters are seen through Kinsey’s eyes the reader gets a strong access to the psyche of the detective and follows her way of thinking. On the one hand this leads to a strong identification of the reader with the detective, on the other hand to a high level of authenticity. Authenticity is also achieved by detailed descriptions of everyday-life. Thus the observation of Ori Fowler’s diabetes and the nursing service done by her daughter Ann, for example, play their part in the novel as can be seen from the following quotation:

‘Mother, what are you doing?’

‘I have to sit on the pot again, and you were taking so long I didn’t think I could wait.’ ‘Why didn´t you call? You know you´re not supposed to get up without help. Honestly!’ Ann set the tray down on a wooden serving cart and moved over to the bed to give her mother a hand.11

Evelyne Keitel adds that by the descriptions of everyday-life a feminist component is contributed to the plot of the modern female detective story:

Eine feministische Perspektive kommt vor allem in der Art, wie der Alltag dargestellt wird, zum Tragen. Alltag wird ständig thematisiert und vor allem kommentiert. Die Detektivinnen der 80er und 90er Jahre wollen Alltag möglichst ´echt´ - lebensnah, wiedererkennbar – darstellen. Deshalb spielt eine Authentizität in der Erzählsituation dieser Texte eine zentrale Rolle.12

According to the outer form the story is presented like a report Kinsey submits to the reader. This is clearly demonstrated by the very end of the story which closes with the complimentary phrase:

Respectfully submitted,

Kinsey Millhone13

Another aspect which supports the identification of the text as a report is the use of the narrative past as the dominating tense. Additionally there are several types of tense switching. Thus the tense switches to the present when the characters speak to each other in direct speech. The present tense is also used in passages in which Kinsey is speaking about herself, e.g. about her outer appearance or her personal habits. Again, the distinction that becomes obvious here is the one between the “narrating I” and the “narrated I” and with that the distinction between the “narrating time” and the “narrated time”.

5. The Setting

The setting of the novels of the “hard-boiled school” of the 1920s and 1930s is usually the big city with its criminal gangster-groups, which are often supported by representatives of the policy and the economy.14In contrast to that, the plot of “F” is for Fugitive is set into a rather rural area. Furthermore, the detective enters a family milieu instead of the milieu of corrupt banks or large industrial concerns.

Floral Beach, a small town situated at the Californian West coast in the north of Los Angeles with a population “[…] so modest the number isn´t even posted on a sign anywhere […]“,15is the centre of the investigation. This place is described by Kinsey Millhone very detailed at the beginning of the novel:

The town is six streets long and three streets deep, all bunched up against a steep hill largely covered with weeds. There may be as many as ten businesses along Ocean: three restaurants, a gift shop, a pool hall, a grocery store, a T-Shirt shop that rents boogie boards, a Frostee Freeze, and an art gallery. Around the corner on Palm, there is a pizza parlor and a Laundromat. Everything closes down after five o’clock except the restaurants. […]

The whole town resembles the backside of some other town, but it has a vaguely familiar feel to it, like a shabby resort where you might have spent a summer as a kid.16

This description is a quite realistic one. It could refer to any real small town at the coast of California, usually places where nothing criminal is expected to happen. There is a fixed number of people acting in this context and being possible suspects. The whole ensemble keeps within reasonable limits and conveys a familiar flair. With these features it comes close to what Evelyne Keitel writes about the setting of the modern female detective story:

Die charakteristischen Gegebenheiten einer geographischen Region oder eines bestimmten Stadtviertels werden herausgestellt, ebenso die Menschen, die dort leben, ihre Stimmungen und Sehnsüchte, ihre Meinungen und Anliegen, ihre Dialekte und Idiosynkrasien.17

Therefore the description of the setting in “F” is for Fugitive is a typical example for the way the setting is introduced in the modern female detective story:

6. The Female Detective Kinsey Millhone

6.1. Her Engagement in her Job as a Private Investigator

As already pointed out the central character of the book is the private investigator Kinsey Millhone, who actually is the detective in all murder mystery novels written by Sue Grafton. Within the series Kinsey goes through a development, she gets older and more mature. Evelyne Keitel writes about this phenomenon:

Die neuen Detektivinnen machen Fehler und Erfahrungen; sie reifen. Und in jedem weiteren Roman einer Serie wird mehr Vorgeschichte enthüllt.18

Kinsey Millhone is a professional detective, licensed by the state of California. Usually she operates in the town of Santa Teresa, 95 miles north of Los Angeles.19It has to be mentioned that “Santa Teresa” is a fictitious name for a town which has its equivalent in reality. It actually refers to the town of Santa Barbara, California.20

Kinsey is an individualist. She has no assistant and usually works alone, but she does it not only for the joy of it. To pay her living she simply needs money:

With my car paid for and my office space underwritten by California Fidelity, I can live very well on a modest monthly sum.21

Therefore she enters the “Fowler case” only after having signed a contract which fixes the exact amount of money she gets for the job:

‘Thirty dollars an hour, plus expenses. I’d want an advance.’

‘I bet you would, ‘ he said tartly, but the look in his eyes indicated no offense. ‘What do I get?’22

Reading this dialogue it is important to note that Kinsey is the one who comes up with concrete demands concerning her payment. In the end she even pushes her ideas through without making compromises. Therefore this dialogue can be read as an example of Kinsey´s rough, sometimes even offensive, way of getting in contact with the opposite sex. However, Kinsey admits that besides the need for money she also needs an intellectual work, which distracts her from personal problems:

I don’t take on clients sight unseen, but I was intrigued by the situation and I needed the work, not for the money so much as my mental health.23

6.2. Her Outer Appearance

What the reader gets to know about Kinsey’s outer appearance is given by a self-description when she looks at herself in a mirror:

I crossed to the chest of drawers and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked cranky, no doubt about it. My hair is dark and I cut it myself with a pair of nail scissors every six weeks. The effect is just about what you´d expect – ragged, inexpert. […]

My brow was furrowed in a little knot of discontent, which I smoothed with one finger. Hazel eyes, dark lashes. My nose blows real good and it´s remarkably straight considering it´s been broken twice. […]

I don´t wear makeup. I´d probably look better if I did something with my eyes – mascara, eyebrow pencil, eye shadow in two shades – but then I´d be forever fooling around with the stuff, which seems like a waste of time.24

As one can read in this passage Kinsey does not really care about the way she looks like. She gives two reasons for that attitude: On the one hand side, she considers beauty care as a waste of time. On the other side, she also admits that she “[…] was never taught to be girlish […]”, because she was raised by a “[…] maiden aunt whose notion of beauty care was an occasional swipe of cold cream underneath her eyes[…]”.25

Concerning the style of this passage the time switch from the narrative past to the present tense is striking. Again the distinction between the “narrated I” (past tense) and the “narrating I” (present tense) becomes obvious.

6.3. Her Relation to Other People

According to this novel Kinsey Millhone is 32 years old. She was married twice but she has not got any children.26Her parents were killed in a car accident when she was five. Kinsey survived the accident but never got over the trauma of losing her parents at such an early age. For that reason she generally remains cautious in getting into relationships with other people. She rather keeps her distance in order to avoid a lot of unruly emotion. This attitude is also remarkable when she speaks about the relationship to her landlord and housekeeper Henry Pitts, who actually is the person most close to her:

My parents had been killed in a car wreck when I was five. In the absence of a real family, I’d simply done without. Now, apparently, old dependencies had surfaced. I knew whatthatmeant. This man was eighty two. Who knew how long he’d live? Just about the time I let myself get attached to him, he’d drop dead. Ha, ha, the joke’s on you again.27

Concerning her love relationships it is only mentioned that she has been married twice.28Details about her ex-husbands are not revealed. Furthermore, there is nothing said about love affairs in this novel. Kinsey speaks about love with a mixture of bitterness and melancholy:

Sometimes being fooled by love is worth the price. At least you know you´re alive and capable of feeling, even if all you end up with is chest pain.29

6.4. Her Way of Living

Just as Kinsey does not really care about her outer appearance she is not really interested in the way her garage apartment looks like:

I don’t spend a lot of time at home, so I didn’t much care what the place looked like.30

She does not spend money on luxury goods. Speaking about her personal possessives she underlines the practical rather than the emotional value of things:

I drive a fifteen-year-old VW, one of those homely beige models with assorted dents. It rattles and it’s rusty, but it’s paid for, it runs fine, and it’s cheap on gas.31

As to other characteristic habits it can be said that Kinsey tries to go jogging every day and lifts weights three times a week:

I try to run every day, not from passion, but because it’s saved my life more than once. In addition to the jogging, I usually lift weights three times a week, but I´d had to discontinue that temporarily, due to injuries.32

While she is involved in a certain case she writes her reports with an old typewriter, which always “travels” with her. To defend herself she is equipped with a handgun, “[a] Davis. 32, chrome and walnut, with a five-and-a-quarter-inch barrel.”33

6.5. Kinsey – A “Hard-Boiled” Detective?

Peter Nusser mentions the following features for a typical representative of the “hard boiled school”:

Zunächst die pure physische Kraft und ein eiserner Wille, der auch körperliche Schmerzen ertragen hilft; dann die Kontrolle über die eigenen Gefühle und Affekte, speziell in der Situation der Berufsausübung, wodurch sich die Helden auf humane Weise von ihren Gegenspielern abheben; schließlich die Gelassenheit gegenüber dem Tod und der eigenen existenziellen Krisensituation.34

The characteristics of Kinsey Millhone described in the preceding chapters clearly show parallels to the American “hard-boiled” type of detective of the 1920s and 1930s. By being a professional private investigator Kinsey enters a rather male domain of activity. Moreover doing her job as well as possible is the central issue in her life. She nearly identifies with being a detective, therefore her profession influences all other fields of life. Irmgard Maasen writes about the modern female detective:

Her inability to sustain a relationship brings into sharp relief the price she has to pay for entering the masculine field of activity. It serves as a comment on the impossibility for the professional woman to find a man who would countenance the autonomy that is the prerequisite for the job.35

What is said here also applies to Kinsey’s life. At least in this novel there is not much mentioned about Kinsey´s present private life. The reader only gets to know that she is a single at the moment, but has been married twice. Details about her ex-husbands are not revealed.

Referring to the features of a typical “hard-boiled” detective the fact that Kinsey does not care about her personal security also corresponds to Nusser’s criteria. More than once Kinsey is confronted with death, in this novel, for example, in the direct confrontation with the murderer.36Even those situations of extreme danger do not keep her away from doing her job. For that reason Kinsey can be classified as sort of a female “tough-guy”.

Another aspect that marks her as belonging to the “hard-boiled school” tradition is the style Sue Grafton has chosen for her heroine. In his essay “Talkin’ Trash and Kickin’ Butt: Sue Grafton’s Hard-Boiled Feminism” Scott Christianson discusses the “hard-boiled” style of Kinsey Millhone. According to this essay this style is marked by a “[…] generically distinctive combination of active verbs and fast-moving prose, of tough talk, wisecracks, and the often crude vernacular or colloquial idiom familiar to the readers of the hard-boiled tradition […]”.37Indeed, Kinsey’s way of speaking about the situation or about other characters is often marked by a strong cynicism. Even when she speaks about herself she remains self-ironical:

I was never taught to be girlish, so here I am, at thirty-two, stuck with a face unadorned by cosmetic subterfuge. As it is we could not call mine a beautiful puss, but it does the job well enough, distinguishing the front of my head from the back.38

By the use of such wisecracks serious facts or situations get a witty touch. (Self)-irony helps to build up a certain distance and this makes it possible for the reader to look at the situation without too strong emotions of compassion or melancholy.

7. The Constellation of the Victim, the Detective and the Murderer

7. 1. The Opposition of the Victim (Jean Timberlake) and the Detective (Kinsey Millhone)

In his book Der Kriminalroman Peter Nusser writes about the role of the victim within the constellation of characters:

Unter allen Figuren des Detektivromans hat das Opfer normalerweise den geringsten personalen Stellenwert, obwohl es der Bezugspunkt der Fahndungstätigkeit ist. Es löst sie aus und zentriert alle Fragen um sich. Aber in solcher Funktion – so wird stets behauptet – ist es nichts anderes als ein Requisit, das einen Mechanismus in Gang setzt.39

According to Nusser the victim generally is a subordinated character in the classical detective story. In his essay “Spielregeln des Kriminalromans” Helmut Heißenbüttel supports this argument by saying:

Der Ermordete, der entweder vor Beginn der Erzählung oder auf den ersten Seiten sein Ende findet, bringt alles in Gang. Die Leiche ist gleichsam der Hebel, der der Story den Anstoß liefert. Ihr gegenüber steht der Entdecker, der sich bemüht, die Verwicklung des Mordfalls aufzulösen.40

In addition to Nusser Heißenbüttel refers the opposition of the victim and the detective. In “F” is for Fugitive the opposition is not only due to the classical structure of the detective story, but also to the contrasting types of women that are embodied by the victim and the detective.

Since Jean Timberlake is dead when the novel takes place, i.e. on the first level, her personality, her background and her relations to other characters have to be scrutinized by looking back to the past, i.e. to the second time level of the novel. For this reason the reader is never directly confronted with her traits of character. Everything he gets to know about her is revealed by documents, e.g. newspaper articles, photos, yearbook entries or by evaluations of other characters of the novel.

In the following passage Kinsey describes her impressions of Jean Timberlake by looking at a photography in the yearbook of the high school Jean went to:

Jean never looked like she had anything in common with the rest. In the few group pictures where I spotted her, she never grinned and she had none of the bouncy-looking innocence of the Debbies and the Tammies. Jean’s eyes were hooded, her gaze remote, and the faint smile that played on her mouth suggested a private amusement still evident after all these years.41

A second description of Jean’s outer appearance is given when Kinsey looks at another photography in a newspaper article:

Her dark hair was glossy and straight, cut to the shape of her face, parted in the middle and curving softly at the nape of her neck. Her eyes were pale, lined with black, her mouth wide and sensual. There was the barest suggestion of a smile, and it gave her an air of knowing something the rest of us might not be aware of yet.42

In both passages it is pointed out that there was something special about Jean Timberlake, because she “[…] never looked like she had anything in common with the rest […]”.43In comparison to other girls of her age she seemed to be more mature and more serious at the same time.

Reading the last quotation one can conclude that Jean was quite concerned about her outer appearance. She wore makeup and cut her hair in a special way. If one compares her description with that of Kinsey Millhone one can state that Jean represents a more female, more sexual type of woman. Furthermore she seemed to be conscious about the effect she had on men and used this knowledge to seduce them. Thus she got involved with different men, who were sometimes even married. David Poletti, a former classmate, who also had an affair with her, describes the effect she had as follows:

“She was really outrageous…insatiable’s the word…but what drove her wasn´t sex. It was…I don´t know, self-loathing or a need to dominate. We were at her mercy because we wanted her so much. I guess our revenge was never really giving her what she wanted, which was old-fashioned respect.”44

While Kinsey is trying to keep herself away from intimate relationships with men and strives to find fulfilment in her job as a private investigator, Jean hoped to find respect in her different relationships with men. Speaking in terms of psychology both ways of behaviour can be seen as the expression of one and the same problem. Therefore the relation between these characters is not only marked by opposition. Looking at their personal history it shows parallels as well. Thus Kinsey is traumatized by the early loss of her parents. Jean even never knew, who her father was:

Etta Jean Timberlake was born at 2:26 A.M. on June 3, 1949, 6lbs., 8 oz., 19 inches long. Her mother was listed as gravida 1, para 1, fifteen years old and unemployed. Her father was ´unknown´.45

Since both grew up without getting the necessary appreciation from their parents they both had to look for suitable substitutions do develop their self-confidence and their self-esteem. Kinsey became sort of a “tough guy” trying to be thoroughly independent from other people and showing little emotion. Jean slipped in the role of the seductress, whom no man could resist.

Comparing Kinsey with Jean it is also remarkable that both would be at a similar age if Jean would still have been alive. (According to the date of birth of Jean Timberlake the first level of the novel has to be set in 1983. Kinsey is 32 at this time, Jean would have been 33.)

7. 2. The Parallel to the Murderer (Ann Fowler)

In the end Ann Fowler is identified by Kinsey Millhone as being the murderer of Jean Timberlake, her mother Shana Timberlake as well as of her own mother Ori Fowler. All these murders are motivated by the fact that Ann has always been crazy about Dwight Shales, the principle of the school Jean went to and the presumed father of her unborn baby. Ann, who worked at the same school as a guidance counselor,46knew that Jean was pregnant and that Dwight had an affair with her. Since Dwight was married at that time this fact becoming public would have ruined his life. To protect Dwight´s reputation Ann murdered Jean and let the suspicion fell on her own brother, whom she was always jealous of:

“Were you jealous?” I asked. “Absolutely. I was horribly jealous. I couldn´t help myself. They doted on him. He was everything. And of course he was good…slept like an angel, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, I was halfdead. Some doctor caught on. I don´t even know now who it was, but he insisted on a bowel biopsy and that´s when they diagnosed the celiac disease. Once they took me off wheat, I was fine, though I think Pop was always half-convinced I´d done it out of spite. Ha. The story of my life.”47

Interpreting this quotation it shows that Ann felt like the disliked child, the neglected one, who did not get enough attention from her parents. Stating that the parallel to Kinsey Millhone and Jean Timberlake becomes obvious, because both of them had similar problems. Kinsey grew up in the absence of her parents, Jean in the absence of her natural father. Ann´s father preferred Bailey so that she got the feeling that her father was never really there for her:

Ann was lying on her back by then, one arm flung across her face. Royce clung to her right hand, rocking back and forth. She was weeping like a five-year-old. ´You were never there for me…you were never there….´48

Thus Ann as well as Kinsey and Jean were confronted with an unsatisfying family situation. All of them had to suffer a lack of attention of their parents, especially of their fathers. This cast a cloud over their childhood:

When had it dawned on me that he was gone for good? When had it dawned on Ann that Royce was never going to come through? And what of Jean Timberlake? None of us had survived the wounds our fathers inflicted all those years ago. Did he love us? How would we ever know? He was gone and he´d never again be what he was to us in all his haunting perfection. If love is what injures us, how can we heal?49

Becoming adults all of them got problems in defining their role as women and in handling their personal lives. Simplified one might say that they all felt the desire for being loved inside them. According to their personality they tried to find their ways to cope with that feeling. Jean tried to get love and respect in offering sexuality to different men. Ann reacted with bitterness and tried to force love. Kinsey tried to deny any desire for human closeness at all.

Finally, all of them failed in getting along with their intimate relationships to the opposite sex. Jean let herself being used of by men. She died before she could find a solution to this problem. Ann is not able to build up a normal relationship. Instead of that she puts her energy into loving a married man and saving her bitterness to kill everybody who is in her way. Kinsey has also problems in sustaining a relationship to a man. This is shown by the fact that she was married twice. She has problems in getting attached to intimate relationships at all. Nevertheless, she is the only one of these women who has a chance to realize her problem and to work it out. It was said that Kinsey goes through a development within the series of the alphabet murder mysteries.50It should be added that there is a development remarkable within this book already. Thus, in the end of the book Kinsey changes her attitude towards her landlord and housekeeper Henry Pitts and confesses that he probably is “[…] the closest thing to a father […]”51she has ever had.

8. Conclusion

In the analysis it was demonstrated that “F” is for Fugitive can be read as a variation of the detective novels of the American “hard-boiled school” of the 1920s and 1930s. Its central character Kinsey Millhone embodies sort of a female “tough-guy”. She is a professional detective, who needs the money she makes with her job to pay her living. She works extensively without taking care of her health and not really thinking about her own security. Nevertheless, an emphasis is put on her female traits of character, such as working with the help of intuition. Scott Christianson summarizes the different aspects of her character by saying:

[…] her detective Millhone is neither a pampered amateur solving crimes for fun nor a fantasized idealist saving the world through political correctness. Millhone is a flawed realist: joyfully single and lonely at times, sexually active in between long spells of celibacy, a liar by choice and habit who struggles to tell the truth about herself and her experience.52

The novel gets a psychological dimension since the central female characters (the detective, the victim and the murderer) show parallels in their personal history. Looking back to their childhood all of them can be seen as sort of neglected children, who suffered from a lack of affection of their parents, especially of their fathers. In the constellation of characters these personalities are confronted with each other in the contrasting role schemes of the victim, the detective and the murderer. Since these typical role schemes of the detective story are embodied by women only it can be said that the female perspective on the world becomes a central issue of the novel.

9. Bibliography

Primary Material

Grafton, Sue. “F” is for Fugitive. New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland:

Bantam Books, 1990.

Secondary Material

Cawelti, John G. Adventure, Mystery, and Romance. Formula Stories as Art and

Popular Culture. Chicago, London: University Press of Chicago 1976.

Christianson, Scott. “Talkin´ Trash and Kickin´ Butt: Sue Grafton´s Hard-boiled

Feminism”. Feminism in Women´s Detective Fiction. Ed. Glenwood Irons.

Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press Incorporated 1995.

Heißenbüttel, Helmut: „Spielregeln des Kriminalromans.“ Der Kriminalroman II. Zur

Theorie und Geschichte einer Gattung. Ed. Jochen Vogt. 2., unveränderter

Nachdruck. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1992.

Keitel, Evelyne. Kriminalromane von Frauen für Frauen. Unterhaltungsliteratur aus

Amerika. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998.

Maasen, Ingrid. „An unsuitable job for a woman? Gender, Genre and the New

Detective Heroine”. The Art of Murder. New Essays on Detective Fiction. Ed. H. Gustav Klaus and Stephen Knight. Tuebingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 1998.

Nusser, Peter: Der Kriminalroman. 2., überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Stuttgart,

Weimar: J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1992.

Woeller, Waltraud: Illustrierte Geschichte der Kriminalliteratur. Leipzig: Edition

Leipzig, 1984.

Web-Sites (Henry Holt and Company, Inc. 26. 12. 01)


1 Cp. Peter Nusser: Der Kriminalroman. 2., überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage (Stuttgart, Weimar: J. B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1992) 26.

2 (26. 12. 2001)

3 Sue Grafton, “F” is for Fugitive (New York: Bantam Books, 1990) 3-14. All further page numbers refer to this edition.

4Grafton 19.

5Nusser 26.

6Cp. Beatrix Finke, Erzählsituationen und Figurenperspektiven im Detektivroman. Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophie an der Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität zu München (Amsterdam: Verlag B. R. Grüner, 1982) 37.

7Grafton 1.

8Evelyne Keitel, Kriminalromane von Frauen für Frauen. Unterhaltungsliteratur aus Amerika (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998) 52.

9 Grafton 3.

10Ibid. 8.

11Ibid. 29f.

12Keitel 77.

13Grafton 308.

14Waltraud Woeller, Illustrierte Geschichte der Kriminalliteratur. (Leipzig: Edition Leipzig, 1984) 142.

15Grafton 2.

16Grafton 2.

17Keitel 89.

18Ibid 4.

19Grafton 3.

20Keitel 5.

21Grafton 10.

22Ibid. 8.

23Ibid. 9.

24Ibid. 13f.

25Grafton 14.

26Ibid. 3.

27Ibid. 10.

28Ibid. 3.

29Ibid. 13.

30Grafton 10.

31Ibid. 9.

32Ibid. 17.

33Ibid. 149.

34Nusser 127.

35Irmgard Maasen, ‘An Unsuitable Job for a Woman? Gender, Genre and the New Detective Heroine.’ The Art of Murder. New Essays on Detective Fiction. Ed. H. Gustav Klaus and Stephen Knight. (Tuebingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 1998) 158-159.

36Grafton 292-306.

37Scott Christianson, ‘Talkin’ Trash and Kickin’ Butt: Sue Grafton’s Hard-Boiled Feminism’, Feminism in Women’s Detective Fiction, ed. Glenwood Irons. (Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1995) 129.

38Grafton 14.

39Nusser 39.

40Helmut Heißenbüttel, ‚Spielregeln des Kriminalromans‘, Der Kriminalroman II. Zur Theorie und Geschichte einer Gattung, ed. Jochen Vogt (München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1992) 360.

41Grafton 48.

42Ibid. 19.

43Ibid. 48.

44Ibid. 118.

45Grafton 185.

46Ibid. 50.

47Grafton 142.

48Ibid. 105.

49Ibid. 306.

50Cp. p. 6 of this paper.

51Grafton 307.

52Christianson 127.

17 of 17 pages


An Analysis of the Detective Novel -F- is for Fugitive Written by Sue Grafton
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