Books : reviews

Sue Grafton.
A is for Alibi.
Pan. 1982

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 21 March 2021

‘My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I’m thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind …’

When Laurence Fife was murdered, few cared. A slick divorce attorney with a reputation for ruthlessness, Fife was also rumoured to be a slippery ladies’ man. Plenty of people in the picturesque Southern California town of Santa Teresa had reason to want him dead. Including, thought the cops, his young and beautiful wife, Nikki. With motive, access and opportunity, Nikki was their number one suspect. The Jury thought so too.

Eight years later and out on parole, Nikki Fife hires Kinsey Millhone to find out who really killed her husband. But the trail has gone cold and there is a chilling twist even Kinsey didn’t expect…

PI Kinsey Millhone investigates an old murder on behalf of the alledged murderer, who claims her innocence. After such a long time, the trail is initially quite cold. But the evidence start mounting up, and eventually Kensey's investigations start unearthing old secrets, and old dangers.

It always amazes me in books like this that people are so happy to be questioned by PIs, and are so expansive and helpful. Even the cops. Maybe the guilty do it to try to look innocent, but they just get tangled in lies; and why are the innocent happy to put up with the prying? Anyhow, Kinsey pokes around until trouble start poking back, and the truth turns out to be a lot more complicated that it initially appeared.

I found this a bit pedestrian, especially to start with, as Kinsey spends a lot of time just driving around asking a bunch of people questions, and making problematic life choices. It’s reasonably clear who the baddie has to be, but finding the reason takes a bit of digging (and input from over-helpful bystanders).