A Is For Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery by Sue GraftonA Is For Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery by Sue Grafton

A Is For Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery

bySue Grafton

Mass Market Paperback | November 1, 2005

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Take it from the top in #1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton's knockout thriller that introduced detective Kinsey Millhone-and a hot new attitude-to crime fiction.

A tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she's got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes.

That's why she draws desperate clients like Nikki Fife. Eight years ago, she was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she's out on parole and needs Kinsey's help to find the real killer. But after all this time, clearing Nikki's bad name won't be easy.

If there's one thing that makes Kinsey Millhone feel alive, it's playing on the edge. When her investigation turns up a second corpse, more suspects, and a new reason to kill, Kinsey discovers that the edge is closer-and sharper-than she imagined.

"A" Is for Alibi
"B" Is for Burglar
"C" Is for Corpse
"D" Is for Deadbeat
"E" Is for Evidence
"F" Is for Fugitive
"G" Is for Gumshoe
"H" Is for Homicide
"I" Is for Innocent
"J" Is for Judgment
"K" Is for Killer
"L" is for Lawless
"M" Is for Malice
"N" Is for Noose
"O" Is for Outlaw
"P" Is for Peril
"Q" Is for Quarry
"R" Is for Ricochet
"S" Is for Silence
"T" Is for Trespass
"U" Is for Undertow
"V" Is for Vengeance
"W" Is for Wasted

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton (1940-2017) entered the mystery field in 1982 with the publication of 'A' Is for Alibi, which introduced female hard-boiled private investigator, Kinsey Millhone, operating out of the fictional town of Santa Teresa, (aka Santa Barbara) California, and launched the bestselling Kinsey Mill...
Title:A Is For Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone MysteryFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 6.78 × 4.22 × 0.94 inPublished:November 1, 2005Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312938993

ISBN - 13:9780312938994

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from I wanted to like it #plumreview I found that it was difficult to get into the story. There were so many characters and the plot was quite slow.
Date published: 2018-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from one of my new favorite authors heard about this series and decided to start at the beginning. Good writing good story loved the main character and will be reading her next alphabet book.did not disappoint
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I like reading series... It helps to read series as you grow to love the characters. I did not find that the alphabet series by Grafton was worth the money. Book was a loan. It was okay. The writing mediocre. There are far better authors.
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I throughly enjoyed this book! I finally got around to reading this book and I have to say that I am so pleased I did. I liked that it was short and kept me on the edge of my seat in suspense and mystery. I fell in love with the main character Kinsey and I am excited to read the other novels in this series and see where Kinsey's next mystery takes her!
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy Read and Fun! I enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the rest of the letters!
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from enjoyed it I really enjoyed reading this book. I couldn't help but want to know what happened next.
Date published: 2017-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick read. Not a bad plot - the writing isn't too great sort of like Dan Brown. The fun element of this book is that it takes place so long ago that it feels like you are taking a journey in time since the detective can't really use the internet to help her :)
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a alibi Enjoyed the book from the first page to the end.
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Loved it - fell in love with the character right away. Kept me wanting to read more - was very happy that I picked it up!
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A is for Alibi A is for Alibi was a great story but kind of bland it was missing the connection to the main character. I have the next few so I'm going to read them and then I'll decided if I like Kinsey Milhone.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy Read - Fun Mystery Read this on the beach. Great light read. Solid ending.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good solid PI story Nikki Fife has just been released from prision after being conviceted of murdering her husband. she has hired PI Kinsey Millhone to find out who really killed him. The case is eight years stone cold, but Kinsie, in her brusk style, manages to ruffle more than a few feathers and searches out several new leads. This is a good introduction to a series that now extends to twenty-four books.The most recent book in the series, X , was published in January 2015. While this book is dated by the technology, Kinsie's investigative techniques are solid. As a lead character for a series, she is firm in her commitment to her clients, she's not perfect, but she tries hard to stick to her personal code of conduct. She is a character that I could grow to like quite well. Author Sue Grafton has assembled a likable pool of suspects, and I was even cheering for some to not be the murderr. I was kept eagerly listening till the final moments. I listened to the unabridged audio book from Books on Tape. It was read by Mary Peiffer. She was able to emphasis Kinsie's no nonsense nature but also bring out her compassion when needed.
Date published: 2016-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Mystery Novel A IS FOR ALIBI by Sue Grafton My Thoughts: I am very glad that my first mystery novel was A FOR ALIBI, because it was an awesome read. I love Sue Grafton's writing style, it flows nicely and makes it an easy novel to get zoned into. The mystery itself was amazing; being an addict of crime dramas and true crime TV shows (when I watch TV that is) I thought there was no way I'd get good suspense from a novel. I was wrong. I had myself guessing the killer, and thinking what would happen next; and whether I was right or wrong, the outcome was pieced together perfectly. No matter if you are a mystery buff or not, pick up A FOR ALIBI and get to know P.I. Kinsey Millhone. I know I will be working my way down the alphabet shortly. :) Favorite Quotes: "It was a mouth built for unnatural acts." (Page 180) "What remains is familiar but subtly changed, like a glimpse into the future where certain laws of nature have been altered by the passage of time." (Page 208) "As long as I was running, the fear seemed contained, adrenaline driving out every sensation except the urge to flee." (Page 411) "The streetlights at that distance seemed pointless and whimsical and cruel, illuminating nothing, marking a path to safety that I couldn't reach." (Page 413) "I hated hide-and-seek. I'd never been good at that as a kid. I always jumped right out when anyone got close because the tension made me want to wet my pants." (Page 417) Overall Opinion: A+ http://kaylasbookcase.blogspot.com/
Date published: 2010-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWSOME i loved this book. It kept me interested from begining till end. Could not believe that i would get into it but i did and I could not put it down till I was finished the book.
Date published: 2010-03-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good, but Read this one after having read E is for Evidence - while good, this one reads like a first novel - interesting, good, but not as well put together as later ones in the series. HOWEVER, that said, I usually try to read any series in order as you usually evaluate each individual title from a more realistic point of view. I do recommend that you do read it - there are not that many female detectives out there and it is a quick, easy read.
Date published: 2009-12-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Readable, but standard I know this book was HOT when it ws written, but now it just seems stereotypical and stale. Hardboiled, but freewheeling, private investigator Kinsey Millhone is hired to crack a case eight years cold by--get this--the person originally convicted of the crime. The premise and pacing are good, but corny dialogue and a hackneyed romance spoil the overall tone. If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller with a few twists thrown in for spice pick this up, but don't expect it to be original.
Date published: 2007-07-01

Read from the Book

Chapter One My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I’m thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind. I’m a nice person and I have a lot of friends. My apartment is small but I like living in a cramped space. I’ve lived in trailers most of my life, but lately they’ve been getting too elaborate for my taste, so now I live in one room, a "bachelorette."I don’t have pets. I don’t have houseplants. I spend a lot of time on the road and I don’t like leaving things behind. Aside from the hazards of my profession, my life has always been ordinary, uneventful, and good. Killing someone feels odd to me and I haven’t quite sorted it through. I’ve already given a statement to the police, which I initialed page by page and then signed. I filled out a similar report for the office files. The language in both documents is neutral, the terminology oblique, and neither says quite enough. Nikki Fife first came to my office three weeks ago. I occupy one small corner of a large suite of offices that house the California Fidelity Insurance Company, for whom I once worked. Our connection now is rather loose. I do a certain number of investigations for them in exchange for two rooms with a separate entrance and a small balcony overlooking the main street of Santa Teresa. I have an answering service to pick up calls when I’m out and I keep my own books. I don’t earn a lot of money but I make ends meet. I’d been out for most of the morning, only stopping by the office to pick up my camera. Nikki Fife was standing in the corridor outside my office door. I’d never really met her but I’d been present at her trial eight years before when she was convicted of murdering her husband, Laurence, a prominent divorce attorney here in town. Nikki was in her late twenties then, with striking white-blonde hair, dark eyes, and flawless skin. Her lean face had filled out some, probably the result of prison food with its high starch content, but she still had the ethereal look that had made the accusation of murder seem so incongruous at the time. Her hair had grown out now to its natural shade, a brown so pale that it appeared nearly colorless. She was maybe thirty-five, thirty-six, and the years at the California Institute for Women had left no visible lines. I didn’t say anything at first; just opened the door and let her in. "You know who I am,"she said. "I worked for your husband a couple of times." She studied me carefully. "Was that the extent of it?" I knew what she meant. "I was also there in court when you were being tried,"I said. "But if you’re asking if I was involved with him personally, the answer is no. He wasn’t my type. No offense. Would you like coffee?" She nodded, relaxing almost imperceptibly. I pulled the coffeepot from the bottom of the file cabinet and filled it from the Sparkletts water bottle behind the door. I liked it that she didn’t protest the trouble I was going to. I put in a filter paper and ground coffee and plugged in the pot. The gurgling sound was comforting, like the pump in an aquarium. Nikki sat very still, almost as though her emotional gears had been disengaged. She had no nervous mannerisms, didn’t smoke or twist her hair. I sat down in my swivel chair. "When were you released?" "A week ago." "What’s freedom feel like?" She shrugged. "It feels good, I guess, but I can survive the other way too. Better than you’d think." I took a small carton of half-and-half out of the little refrigerator to my right. I keep clean mugs on top and I turned one over for each of us, filling them when the coffee was done. Nikki took hers with a murmured thanks. "Maybe you’ve heard this one before,"she went on, "but I didn’t kill Laurence and I want you to find out who did." "Why wait this long? You could have initiated an investigation from prison and maybe saved yourself some time." She smiled faintly. "I’ve been claiming I was innocent for years. Who’d believe me? The minute I was indicted, I lost my credibility. I want that back. And I want to know who did me in." I had thought her eyes were dark but I could see now that they were a metallic gray. Her look was level, flattened-out, as though some interior light were growing dim. She seemed to be a lady without much hope. I had never believed she was guilty myself but I couldn’t remember what had made me so sure. She seemed passionless and I couldn’t imagine her caring enough about anything to kill. "You want to fill me in?" She took a sip of coffee and then set the mug on the edge of my desk. "I was married to Laurence for four years, a little more than that. He was unfaithful after the first six months. I don’t know why it came as such a shock. Actually, that’s how I got involved with him ...when he was with his first wife, being unfaithful to her with me. There’s a sort of egotism attached to being a mistress, I suppose. Anyway, I never expected to be in her shoes and I didn’t like it much." "According to the prosecutor, that’s why you killed him." "Look, they needed a conviction. I was it,"she said with the first sign of energy. "I’ve just spent the last eight years with killers of one kind or another and believe me, the motive isn’t apathy. You kill people you hate or you kill in rage or you kill to get even, but you don’t kill someone you’re indifferent to. By the time Laurence died, I didn’t give a damn about him. I fell out of love with him the first time I found out about the other women. It took me a while to get it all out of my system . . ." "And that’s what the diary was all about?"I asked. "Sure I kept track at first. I detailed every infidelity. I listened in on phone calls. I followed him around town. Then he started being more cautious about the whole thing and I started losing interest. I just didn’t give a shit." A flush had crept up to her cheeks and I gave her a moment to compose herself. "I know it looked like I killed him out of jealousy or rage, but I didn’t care about that stuff. By the time he died, I just wanted to get on with my own life. I was going back to school, minding my own business. He went his way and I went mine . . ."Her voice trailed off. "Who do you think killed him?" "I think a lot of people wanted to. Whether they did or not is another matter. I mean, I could make a couple of educated guesses but I don’t have proof of anything. Which is why I’m here." "Why come to me?" She flushed again slightly. "I tried the two big agencies in town and they turned me down. I came across your name in Laurence’s old Rolodex. I thought there was a certain kind of irony hiring someone he had once hired himself. I did check you out. With Con Dolan down at Homicide." I frowned. "It was his case, wasn’t it?" Nikki nodded. "Yes it was. He said you had a good memory. I don’t like having to explain everything from scratch." "What about Dolan? Does he think you’re innocent?" "I doubt it, but then again, I did my time so what’s it to him?" I studied her for a moment. She was forthright and what she said made sense. Laurence Fife had been a difficult man. I hadn’t been all that fond of him myself. If she was guilty, I couldn’t see why she would stir it all up again. Her ordeal was over now and her so-called debt to society had been taken off the books except for whatever remaining parole she had to serve. "Let me think about it some,"I said. "I can get in touch with you later today and let you know." "I’d appreciate that. I do have money. Whatever it takes." "I don’t want to be paid to rehash old business, Mrs. Fife. Even if we find out who did it, we have to make it stick and that could be tough after all this time. I’d like to check back through the files and see how it looks." She took a manila folder out of her big leather bag. "I have some newspaper clippings. I can leave those with you if you like. That’s the number where I can be reached." We shook hands. Hers was cool and slight but her grip was strong. "Call me Nikki. Please." "I’ll be in touch,"I said. I had to go take some photographs of a crack in a sidewalk for an insurance claim and I left the office shortly after she did, taking my VW out the freeway. I like my cars cramped and this one was filled with files and law books, a briefcase where I keep my little automatic, cardboard boxes, and a case of motor oil given to me by a client. He’d been cheated by two con artists who had "allowed"him to invest two grand in their oil company. The motor oil was real enough but it wasn’t theirs; just some Sears thirty-weight with new labels pasted on. It had taken me a day and a half to track them down. In addition to the junk, I keep a packed overnight case back there, too, for God knows what emergency. I wouldn’t work for anyone who wanted me that fast. It just makes me feel secure to have a nightgown, toothbrush, and fresh underwear at hand. I have my little quirks I guess. The VW’s a ’68, one of those vague beige models with assorted dents. It needs a tune-up but I never have time. I thought about Nikki as I drove. I had tossed the manila folder full of clippings on the passenger seat but I really didn’t need to look at them. Laurence Fife had done a lot of divorce work and he had a reputation as a killer in court. He was cold, methodical, and unscrupulous, taking any advantage he could. In California, as in many states, the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity, which eliminates the trumped-up adultery charges that were the mainstay of divorce attorneys and private eyes in the old days. There is still the question of property settlements and custody—money and children—and Laurence Fife could get his clients anything. Most of them were women. Out of court, he had a reputation as a killer of another kind and the rumor was that he had mended many a broken heart in that difficult period between interlocutory and final decrees. I had found him shrewd, nearly humorless, but exact; an easy man to work for because his instructions were clear and he paid in advance. A lot of people apparently hated him: men for the price he extracted, women for the betrayal of their trust. He was thirty-nine years old when he died. That Nikki was accused, tried, and convicted was just a piece of bad luck. Except for cases that clearly involve a homicidal maniac, the police like to believe murders are committed by those we know and love, and most of the time they’re right—a chilling thought when you sit down to dinner with a family of five. All those potential killers passing their plates. As nearly as I could remember, Laurence Fife had been having drinks with his law partner, Charlie Scorsoni, the night of his murder. Nikki was at a meeting of the Junior League. She got home before Laurence, who arrived about midnight. He was taking medication for numerous allergies and before he went to bed, he downed his usual capsule. Within two hours, he was awake—nauseated, vomiting, doubled over with violent stomach cramps. By morning, he was dead. An autopsy and lab tests showed that he’d died as a result of ingesting oleander, ground to a fine powder and substituted for the medication in the capsule he took: not a masterly plot, but one employed to good effect. Oleander is a common California shrub. There was one in the Fife’s backyard as a matter of fact. Nikki’s fingerprints were found on the vial along with his. A diary was discovered among her possessions, certain entries detailing the fact that she’d found out about his adulteries and was bitterly angry and hurt, contemplating divorce. The District Attorney established quite nicely that no one divorced Laurence Fife without penalty. He’d been married and divorced once before and though another attorney had handled his case, his impact was evident. He obtained custody of his children and he managed to come out ahead financially. The state of California is scrupulous in its division of assets, but Laurence Fife had a way of maneuvering monies so that even a fifty-fifty split gave him the lion’s share. It looked as if Nikki Fife knew better than to try disentangling herself from him legally and had sought other means. She had motive. She had access. The grand jury heard the evidence and returned an indictment. Once she got into court, it was simply a question of who could persuade twelve citizens of what. Apparently the D.A. had done his homework. Nikki hired Wilfred Brentnell from Los Angeles: a legal whiz with a reputation as the patron saint of lost causes. In some sense, it was almost like admitting her guilt. The whole trial had a sensational air. Nikki was young. She was pretty. She was born with money. The public was curious and the town was small. It was all too good to miss. Excerpted from A Is For Alibi by Sue Grafton.Copyright © 1982 by Sue Grafton.Published in November 2005 by St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Editorial Reviews

"Kinsey Millhone is smart, sexual, likeable and a very modern operator. A pleasure to read." -Dorothy Salisbury Davis"[This] is what grandpa used to call a class act." -Stanley Ellin "Wit is the most versatile weapon in Sue Grafton's well-stocked arsenal, and she uses it with disarming precision. . . . Grafton excels in this milieu." -Newsweek on the Sue Grafton series and Kinsey Millhone"A wonderful character, tough but not brutish, resourceful and sensitive, a fit knight to walk those mean streets with her male predecessors." -Los Angeles Times on the Sue Grafton series and Kinsey Millhone"Somebody I want to spend more time with." -The New York Times Book Review on the Sue Grafton series and Kinsey Millhone"Bright, brisk, and thoroughly engaging." -The Washington Post on the Sue Grafton series and Kinsey Millhone"Bright, brisk, and thoroughly engaging." -The Washington Post on the Sue Grafton series and Kinsey Millhone"A woman we feel we know, a tough cookie with a soft center, a gregarious loner." -Baltimore Sun on the Sue Grafton series and Kinsey Millhone