Sue Grafton, author of the best-selling "alphabet series" of mystery novels, has died in Santa Barbara, the AP reports. She was 77. Grafton was surrounded by family, including husband Steven Humphrey, when she died Thursday after a two-year battle with cancer, her daughter, Jamie Clark, posted on the author's website. "Although we knew this was coming, it was unexpected and fast. She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly," the posting said. Grafton began her "alphabet series" in 1982 with A is for Alibi. Her most recent book, Y is for Yesterday, was published in August. "She would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name," her daughter wrote. "Out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y."
Humphrey said Grafton had been struggling to find an idea for "Z'' while undergoing treatment and losing weight. "Nothing's been written," he said. "There is no Z." He added with a laugh, "Nobody in this family will ever use the letter Z again." The fictional heroine of the series, Southern California private detective Kinsey Millhone, was Grafton's alter ego, she told the Seattle Times earlier this year. "I'm an introvert, so doing half of what Kinsey is beyond my poor capabilities," Grafton said. "But it's fun to get to live her life without penalty." Her husband agreed that Grafton was Kinsey. "Yes, as Sue said, 'We're one spirit in two bodies, and she got the good one,'" Humphrey said. Grafton began writing at 18, and wrote her first novel at 22. A is for Alibi was the eighth novel she wrote, and the third she had published.