"A is for Alibi" is the first novel in a series written by number one New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton. Even though it was written in 1982 the work does not feel the least bit dated. Nor is there any hint of gender inequality.
The main character for the series is Kinsey Millhone, a young woman, who has been divorced twice. She is a former police office and private investigator who has set up a small detective agency in the fictional town of Santa Teresa California.
Kinsey doesn't have many material possessions and actually lives a rather simple life. No pets, no houseplants and no complicated relationships. What she does have, however, is courage and an intelligent mind that allows her to do your job with expertise and healthy pride. She also has a heart for those who are vulnerable or facing what might appear to others as "lost causes".
In this book, Kinsey is asked to represent Nikki Fife, a woman who is on parole after serving eight years in prison for killing her husband. Nikki claims that she did not kill him and wants Kinsey to find out who did. That doesn't appear to be an easy task but Kinsey decides to take the case. As a result, she finds herself searching for individuals who can provide her with information and clues that might help her to solve the mystery laid out before her.
Nikki's dead husband had more than one woman in his life and it is up to Kinsey to find and interview them so that she has a better understanding of his life circumstances. She also wants to know who might have had motivation to do the killing. As she gathers facts, Kinsey begins to develop theories. The pieces of the puzzle do not always seem to fit together and this sends her off on a quest to find even more pieces that will help her figure things out.
Things get really muddled, however, when Kinsey realizes that there is another corpse that is related to the characters and that opens up the idea that there are more suspects than there were at first.
During her search for answers, Kinsey has to deal with a police officer who is not very cooperative or friendly towards her. She also encounters a little romance.
Sue Grafton is a writer who clearly describes her characters and their perspectives. She uses details such as colour and sounds to take the reader right into each scene so that it feels as though one is in the room or on the street exactly where and when the plot is unfolding. The dialogue is strong and the story line is believable. It is not just focussed on the gruesomeness of two murders but also has a humorous element. Throughout, the main character always seems to remind us of the importance of seeking justice.
The author has chosen to begin every book in the Kinsey Millhone series with a letter of the alphabet. I'm looking forward to the second one which is titled "B is for Burglar".