"A" Is for Alibi
|"A" Is for Alibi|
Cover of the book "A" Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton.
|Publisher||Henry Holt and Company|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Pages||274 pp. first edition|
|Followed by||"B" Is for Burglar|
"A" Is for Alibi is crime writer Sue Grafton's debut mystery novel in the Kinsey Millhone "Alphabet mystery" series, first published in 1982. The novel is set in the fictional Southern California city of Santa Theresa, based on Santa Barbara. Grafton admits she conceived the story on her own "fantasies" of murdering her then husband while going through a divorce. The choice of murder by substituting the contents of an antihistamine tablet with crushed oleander meant that an alibi held no value because the contents of the tablet could have been switched a considerable time earlier than the victim actually swallowed the tablet.
The first printing of "A" Is for Alibi was 7,500 copies, with sales of about 6,000.
"A" Is for Alibi features Kinsey Millhone, 30-year-old female detective and insurance investigator. She investigates the death of prominent divorce lawyer Laurence Fife. His murder eight years previously was blamed on his wife, Nikki Fife, who on being released from prison hires Kinsey. In the course of the investigation, Kinsey becomes involved with Charlie Scorsoni, Fife's former business partner. When she discovers Fife's death has been linked to a woman in Los Angeles, both died under the same unusual circumstances - oleander capsules were substituted for allergy pills – she tracks down the woman's parents, and former boyfriend. She then goes to Las Vegas to interview Fife's former secretary, Sharon Napier, who minutes before Kinsey arrives is killed. Back in California, Kinsey is mystified that Nikki's son, Colin, recognizes Laurence's first wife, Gwen, in a photograph. Kinsey surmises that Gwen was having an affair with her ex-husband at the time of his death. She accuses Gwen who confesses. Shortly afterwards, she too is dead: killed in a hit and run accident.
Kinsey has solved the case she was hired to solve, but in a plot twist, she discovers that her previous notions about the accountant's death were entirely wrong: In fact, it was Scorsoni who killed her when she discovered he was embezzling money from mutual accounts. He used the same method as Gwen to kill Fife, so it be would assumed the same person committed both murders. In a final confrontation, he chases Kinsey across the beach, armed with a knife. Before he can kill her, she shoots him dead.
- Morris, Anne (May 13, 1994). "Mystery author working her way through the alphabet". The Austin American-Statesman. p. D1.
- Brantingham, Barney (July 1, 2008). "W Is for Writers Conference; Sue Grafton Is Kinsey Millhone". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
- Paul, Steve (May 11, 1992). "'N Is for Novelist,' not mystery writer; Sue Grafton has arrived, thanks to Kinsey Millhone". The Kansas City Star. p. D1.
- "'A' is for Alibi". Library Journal 107 (7): 747. 04/01/82.