U.S. crime novelist Sue Grafton dies of cancer

LOS ANGELES, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Crime novelist Sue Grafton, whose Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series became world-wide best sellers, has died after a two-year battle with cancer, her daughter said on Friday.

Grafton, 77, died in Santa Barbara, California, on Thursday surrounded by her family, her daughter, Jamie Clark, said in a note on Grafton's website.

Grafton was best known for a series of murder mystery novels that each begins with a different letter of the alphabet. The last was "Y is for Yesterday," which was published in August.

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"Sue passed away last night after a two year battle with cancer," her daughter wrote.

"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," Clark added.

Grafton had never allowed her books to be turned into movies or TV shows, and her daughter said she was adamantly against ghost writers.

"As far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y," Clark wrote.

Grafton's novels feature feisty female private investigator Kinsey Millhone who lives in the fictional California town of Santa Teresa.

The first, "A is for Alibi," was published in 1982. The books have been translated into 26 languages and regularly topped best seller lists in the United States.

Grafton was praised for her wit and her characters. She won numerous honors for her work including from the British Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America.

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(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Diane Craft and Leslie Adler)

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