Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review: "A" is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters in a good mystery
Cons: A few genre clichés along the way
The Bottom Line:
Cold, solved murder case
Do clues lead Kinsey elsewhere?
Good start to series

Kinsey Starts Her Alphabetical Career

Whether you read mysteries or not, it’s hard to have not heard about Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series.  After all, it’s been running for about 30 years and hits the best seller list quite regularly.  And yet, I haven’t really read any books in the series.  I fixed that last week when I listed to "A" is for Alibi on the way to visit my family, and I quite enjoyed it.

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.

But that was eight years ago, and Nikki Fife is now out on parole.  In all this time, she’s always maintained her innocence, and now she wants to hire PI Kinsey Millhone to prove it.  Kinsey isn’t sure about taking on a case that old, but when she starts poking around, she finds another murder that might be connected.  Is Nikki innocent?  Can Kinsey pick up on the cold trail?

Many people point to Ms. Grafton and this series as one of the series that broke down walls for women writers and female characters in the mystery genre.  While that is certainly true, I appreciated the fact that the book wasn’t self-aware about that at all.  Instead, we got a great story and great characters.  In other words, this series has earned its place in literary history.

The plot was interesting from the very beginning and kept me engaged the entire way through.  The twists and clues were plentiful.  The climax was logical and suspenseful.  It was always hard to stop when my car needed gas or I needed food.

Likewise, the characters were great.  Kinsey was an interesting lead who I enjoyed getting to know.  A few of the characters only had a scene or two, but they lept off the page.  Those who had more scenes also had some great layers that kept me interested in the plot.

My only complaint about the book was the clichés.  Of course, when a book is around 30 years old, does it truly qualify as falling victim to the clichés or did it help create them?  Either way, Kinsey is another in a long line of loner PI’s.  There were another couple clichés along the way I won’t get into to avoid spoilers.  While they did keep the book from being perfect, they were minor issues overall.

And yes, the book is set in the 1980’s.  Heck, that’s when the book was written, but Ms. Grafton has decided to keep the series there as it has gone forward.  Either way, I found that trip back in time to be fun.

Mary Peiffer was the narrator of the audio version I listened to, and she did a wonderful job.  She drew me into the story and never distracted in the slightest.  I’m looking forward to more books with her as I continue the series.

And yes, I will be continuing the series.  "A" is for Alibi is a fun debut, and knowing I can continue to visit Kinsey makes me happy.

You can continue to read her further adventures with the Kinsey Millhone mysteries in order.

This review is an entry in this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.


  1. I really enjoyed Kinsey. I think I left off at about "R".

    1. Sounds like you've got a few to catch up on, but not nearly as many as I do.


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