Review: A Is For Alibi by Sue Grafton

A Is For Alibi is the first book in the Kinsey Milhone series. The book was a finalist for the 1983 Best PI Novel. It marks the start of a series that heralds the way for a sudden onslaught of quality PI novels to feature a female protagonist.

Book Details

Title: A Is For Alibi
Author: Sue Grafton
Pages: 274
Published Date: 1982
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Series Details: 1st book in the Kinsey Milhone series

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Publisher's Synopsis


From the Dustjacket

A tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she's got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes.

That's why she draws desperate clients like Nikki Fife. Eight years ago, she was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she's out on parole and needs Kinsey's help to find the real killer. But after all this time, clearing Nikki's bad name won't be easy.

If there's one thing that makes Kinsey Millhone feel alive, it's playing on the edge. When her investigation turns up a second corpse, more suspects, and a new reason to kill, Kinsey discovers that the edge is closer--and sharper--than she imagined.

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Other Reviews

Criminal Element

So, “A” Is for Alibi, featuring Sue Grafton's private investigator Kinsey Millhone, debuted in 1982—a year before author Ross Macdonald died. Macdonald had created the fictional town of Santa Teresa where his own PI, Lew Archer, routinely patrolled throughout an eighteen book series. The wealthy area (described by Grafton as “a haven for the abject rich”), which—more than a little—resembles the real Santa Barbara, is where a good chunk of the setting of Alibi takes place…- Read Full Review

Lornographic Material

I enjoyed this book for the most part. The writing doesn't feel too terribly dated, in fact the only thing that really stood out was that there was no cell phones. The plot is your typical mystery. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you've read anything by Lawrence Block or Dashiell Hammett or John D. Macdonald you've read this book. Every chapter starts with superfluous descriptions of places you'll never see again…- Read Full Review

Carstairs Considers

Laurence Fife was not well liked when he was alive.  He was a ruthless divorce lawyer who always won big for his clients.  In his personal life, he had an ex-wife and was constantly cheating on his current wife.  So when he was murdered and his current wife was convicted of the crime, no one was super surprised....- Read Full Review

The Book Castle

This was a good and solid mystery novel.

I quite liked the main character; she's down to earth and somewhat relatable, though I don't feel I really managed to grasp her or connect to her completely. She drives the story forward and it's through her eyes we see the story unfold, which works really well. There's quite a lot of characters in this book though, and I'll be honest; I struggled in some points to remember who was an ex-wife, who was a former mistress, who was the son of the ex-wife of the... wait a minute... I'm not sure if that's just me…- Read Full Review

GoodReads Reviews

At the time of writing there are 4,416 reviews posted to the GoodReads website for an average of 3.8/5 stars. You can read these reviews by visiting the GoodReads website.

Other Shamus Best PI Novel nominees - 1983