Main characters: Kinsey Millhone
Summary: Kinsey (thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids) is a private investigator, and the book details one of her cases: the murder of lawyer Laurence Fife. At the time he died everyone thought his wife did it so she went to jail for it; eight years later she’s out on parole and she hired Kinsey to find out who the real killer was. Interestingly enough, the first thing coming to light once the investigation started is that there have been another murder, in the very same way, weeks after the first one. All the more reason for Kinsey not to stop until whoever did it was caught (quite a challenge if we think of the eight years that have passed since).
Kinsey, with her strange penchant for cramped space, and a private investigator to boot, was pretty hard for me to identify with as at first sight we have nothing in common. Nevertheless I did understand her and found out what made her tick, and I ended up liking her — she is tough and at times rude but really, how else could she have managed to hold on to such a job as hers in a world of men? Most of all I think I liked her principles (especially related to Martha Threadgill’s case), how she wanted the truth to triumph and the dishonest to be punished (or at least not to succeed). Unfortunately there has been no other character fleshed out enough — all others come and go as needed, stating what they know about the case then move out of limelight without us finding unnecessary (to the investigation) details about them. We see them only filtered through the light of how cooperative they have been to Kinsey: Gwen = good, Lyle = bad, etc.
Having recently discovered there is such thing as an “alphabet series by Sue Grafton”, I just had to see what the fuss was about. All in all I did like the book (though I did have a bit of trouble identifying who was who in the beginning, as Kinsey read some names in some files (e.g. Libby Glass had a “surly sounding” boyfriend, Lyle Abernathy), then moved on, traveled, talked to people and then she thought about seeing say Lyle, leaving me to wonder “who is this Lyle anyway??” — but that’s probably my own fault, forgetting the already mentioned names like that) and I was quite curious to see how will it all end up. I plan to read at least the next book (B Is For Burglar), and I’m quite looking forward to it too :)
There’s only one thing I find not quite adding up: where does the title of the book come from? I mean, I can of course understand “A Is For”, as it’s the very first book in the series, and “Alibi”, as it is, of course, a word starting with A. Thing is, there is no actual alibi involved in the whole book! Both murders were done in the same way: the victims took what they thought was a prescription pill (Laurence an allergy pill, Libby a tranquilizer), but had been replaced with poison. Which means the murderer could have switched the pills even weeks before the death, making the whole idea of alibi completely useless since no one knew when it actually happened.
PS If you find yourself (like me) wondering why Kinsey, when in a jam, doesn’t call the police from her cellphone, the reason is simple enough: the book was written in 1982. Wow. It really did not seem that old to me (although I did wonder more than once about the lack of cellphones :D :D )
What I liked most: The way Kinsey’s work was set out in front of her like solving a puzzle: a bit of info here, a bit of info there, all seemingly unconnected at first but getting to look more and more like one big picture as the investigation rolled on. Which is the main reason I plan to read the next book, I liked this part that much :D
What I liked least: *************SPOILER****************
Why did Charlie kill Gwen?? He had no way of knowing she had confessed the murder of Laurence Fife plus even if he did, what reason would he have to kill her? It’s not like she knew anything more about the Libby Glass part (she definitely didn’t). I don’t think the idea of Charlie panicking and not thinking straight justifies it — even so, why her?
Recommend it? Yes. It’s not perfect but it’s a fast read and quite captivating at times :)
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