D is for Daughter, F is for Father


By Mark K. Brown & Brad Mengel


Kinsey Milhone is the detective whose highly entertaining memoirs are being presented to the world by Sue Grafton, beginning with "A" is for Alibi (Henry Holt and Co., 1983). She lives in the southern California coastal community of Santa Teresa. Kinsey is strong, both physically and mentally. She has strong detectival instincts and even a talent for disguise. She also possesses a strong urge to see justice done, even, in at least one case, if it requires her to take the law into her own hands and break it. She is a strong candidate for Wold Newton family membership

Kinsey's parents, Randy Millhone and Rita Kinsey, met at Rita's debut Lompoc, CA, in 1935. She was 18. Randy was a waiter at the event. He was 33. Despite a great deal of disapproval on the part of Rita's family, they were married in Nov.. This caused Rita to become estranged from her wealthy parents. The Millhones settled in Santa Teresa, Ca. and both they and their daughter will live their for the rest of their lives.

Kinsey was born on May 5, 1950. She is apparently an only child. This brings to mind two relevant facts. 1) Randy and Rita Millhone were married for 15 years before they had a child, and 2) by 1949 (the year Kinsey was conceived), Randy was 48 and Rita was 33.

Lew Archer was born in either 1914 or 1918 (internal evidence is a little contradictory). This would make him either 31 or 35 in 1949. He was much closer to Rita Millhone's age than her husband. We know from the books Ross MacDonald edited out of his memoirs that Lew is not unattractive to the opposite sex, although not nearly as much of a womanizer as, say, James Bond or Travis McGee. Lew was at this time married, although, as we shall see, this was not to last.

My theory runs like this. Randy Millhone was sterile. Although Rita loved him very much, this caused a certain amount of tension and dissatisfaction in their marriage. In 1948 or early '49, Lew Archer was brought to Santa Teresa for the first time on business of some sort. He met the lovely Rita Millhone, and the two of them had an affair. Neither of them was by nature very promiscuous, so that neither was entirely comfortable with the relationship, but Rita was unhappy in her marriage and very attracted to Lew. Lew fell rather hard for Rita. Somewhere along the line, Lew's wife found out about the affair, and Rita became pregnant.

Randy Millhone, although not happy with the situation, tried hard to understand his wife's position. The effort he made reminded Rita of the reasons she was in love with him and she broke off the relationship with Lew. After all, the main thing missing in her life with Randy was a child. Lew didn't take it quite as well, and had a much harder time returning to life with his wife. Things didn't work out, and Lew was served with divorce papers in late 49. Kinsey was born in may of 1950. Her parents were killed in a car crash in 1955, when she was only 5 years old. She has no clue that Randy was not her father.

I imagine that the cases Lew decided to write up would not only be the ones he thought would be interesting to an audience, but also the ones that he had an emotional connection to. The case of the wealthy family with scandal in it's past; the case of the child who turns out to be the illegitimate result of an extramarital relationship; these would be the archtypical Lew Archer cases. And Lew was drawn back to Santa Teresa again and again over the years. Obviously, the events of 1949 left deep marks in his heart and mind.

So far, Kinsey and Sue Grafton have made little effort to explore the early days of Kinsey's life. This article may indicate why.


Kinsey Milhone is copyright 2000 by Sue Grafton. For more information on Sue Grafton and Kinsey Milhone, go to www.suegrafton.com.


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