Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A is for Alibi (Kinsey Milhone #1), by Sue Grafton (author),Mary Peiffer (narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9781415930113, October 2005 (original publication January 1982)

Kinsey Milhone is an ex-cop, twice-divorced, private detective. When Nikki Fife, widow and convicted killer of unloved divorce lawyer Laurence Fife, now out on parole, comes to Kinsey and asks her to find the real killer, after some thought, Kinsey takes on the case.

Of course the trail is eight years cold, and Nikki was always the most likely suspect. But something doesn't sit right with Kinsey, including the fact that an accountant who worked on Laurence's firm's accounts, died a few days after him by the same method: ground-up oleander substituted for the contents of a capsule--an allergy medication in Laurence's case; a sleeping pill in Libby Parker's case.

And when Kinsey starts asking questions, more people start dying.

All in all, it's a good mystery, nicely intricate, and building to a logical and satisfying resolution. I do have a few petty complaints, such as the fact that when the Fifes went off on a last family vacation before Laurence died, apparently no one was supposed to be taking care of the dog, who was left behind. This matters because, if there had been a dogsitter, it wouldn't have taken several days for them to find out that the dog had been killed. It makes no sense, and is made more ludicrous by the fact that later, the fact that one suspect is dog-sitting for a friend is a critical plot point. We're told Kinsey doesn't much like dogs; I suspect Grafton has never lived with one.

Overall, I find Kinsey a little off-putting, but not enough  to spoil the story for me. It's worth remembering that this is the first book, written over thirty years ago. There have been cultural changes in the interim, and it's normal in a mystery series for the characters to develop over the course of the series, not so much over just one book. The narrator's very cool and level tone may also have contributed to the off-putting sensation.

Definitely worth reading, especially if you're looking for a "new" mystery series to dig into.

They didn't do book trailers in 1982, but this is a pretty nice job by some clearly very bright high school students:



I borrowed this  book from the library.