Thursday, March 20, 2008

'A' is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton

(hb; 1982: first book in the Kinsey Millhone mysteries)

From the inside flap:

"When Laurence Fife was murdered, few mourned his passing. A prominent divorce attorney with a reputation for single-minded ruthlessness on behalf of his clients, Fife was also rumored to be a dedicated philanderer. Plenty of people in the picturesque Southern California town of Santa Teresa had a reason to want him dead. Including, thought the cops, his young and beautiful wife, Nikki. With motive, access, and opportunity, Nikki was their number-one suspect. The jury thought so, too.

"Eight years later and out on parole, Nikki Fife hires Kinsey Millhone to find out who really killed her late husband.

"A trail that is eight years cold. A trail that raches out to enfold a bitter, wealthy and foul-mouthed old woman and a young boy, born deaf, whose memory cannot be trusted. A trial that leads to a lawyer defensively loyal to a dead partner -- and disarmingly attractive to Millhone; to an ex-wife, brave, lucid, lovely -- and still angry over Fife's betrayal of her; to a not-so-young secretary with too high a salary for too few skills -- and too many debts left owing; The trail twists to include them all, with Millhone following every turn until it finally twists back on itself and she finds herself face-to-face with a killer cunning enough to get away with murder."


Recounted in the first-person voice of Millhone, a just-the-facts, usually-friendly PI, this is a reader-hooking, blast-through-the-pages mystery. The killer(s) isn't/aren't surprising, but the barebones prose is razor-sharp and the finish is mind-blowing and blunt, in the style of Mickey Spillane.

One of the best new crime writers I've read in a while -- definitely check this writer and series out.

Followed by 'B' is for Burglar.

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