A is for Alibi

Sue Grafton

A classic whodunnit and the first novel in Sue Grafton's 'Alphabet Series'. Introducing one of the Hound's greatest crime fighters PI Kiney Millhone, smart, tough - a pioneer.  

 

PI Kinsey Millhone 32, in a pretty California town, gets her first case. Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man until someone killed him. Released from jail after 8 years, his wife Nikki wants the truth. But the trail is cold, and at the end is a chilling twist - a second eight-year-old murder and a brand new corpse.

Kinsey Millhone has recently hung out her shingle as a PI. She uses a small corner of a suite of offices owned by California Fidelity Insurance Company; they give her the use of the space in exchange for occasional investigation. One day Millhone gets a visit from Nikki Fife, who’s just been released from prison after being convicted of poisoning her husband, prominent divorce attorney Laurence Fife. Nikki claims that she is innocent of the crime. Now she wants to clear her name and find out who framed her. Millhone takes the case and begins to track down all of the people who were a part of Fife’s life at the time of the murder.

It’s not long before Millhone discovers that more than one person could have had a reason for wanting to kill him. For one thing, he was notorious for his affairs, so his ex-wife Gwen could have

had a motive.

As Millhone begins to learn more about the murder and about Fife’s life, she discovers that there was another very similar poisoning death not long after Fife’s. This time the victim was Libby Glass, who worked for the business management firm that represented Fife’s and Scorsoni’s interests. If she was killed because of something she knew, there could very well be a financial angle to this murder.
As Millhone begins to dig deeper and follow up on different aspects of Fife’s personal and professional lives, the trail leads her to one particular witness, who is murdered before being able to ‘fill in blanks’ in the case. Now Millhone knows that she’s on the right path and she continues to pursue some of the leads she’s uncovered.

Millhone herself is an important element in the novel. She’s intelligent and a good detective, but she’ll be the first one to say that she’s far from perfect. She’s not good at intimate relationships (witness her two divorces) and she can be stubborn and prickly. She makes her share of mistakes too, and she’s not above telling a lie here or there to cover herself. And as her fans know, she is not domestically inclined. But she is refreshingly honest about her failings. And she’s believable as a detective; she doesn’t completely trust anyone involved in the case, including her client. She has a sense of humour too and doesn’t take herself overly seriously. But she does take her work seriously; in fact, it’s more important to her than just about anything else. And make no mistake: Millhone may get herself into danger but she’s neither foolhardy nor a stereotypical ‘damsel in distress.’
There’s also the Southern California setting of the novel and Grafton places the reader in that part of the U.S.

The mystery itself is believable and when we learn the truth about the deaths, we see that the motives behind everything make sense. 
A is For Alibi tells the credible story of a set of deaths and the people involved with the victims. It also introduces the complicated, appealing, hard-working and interesting Kinsey Millhone. The story takes place in a distinctive setting and its pacing and action are solid fits with the plot. 

Review by Margot Kinberg, Confessions of a Mystery Writer

About Sue Grafton:

Sue Grafton is an international bestseller with a readership in the millions.

"The mystery novel offers a world in which justice is served. Maybe not in a court of law," Grafton has said, "but people do get their just desserts." And like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker and the John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—she has earned new respect for that form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.