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Book Reviews

Milt Gross Book Review: "A" is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
By Milt Gross
Jan 31, 2016 - 7:17:30 AM

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'A' is for Alibi was Sue Grafton's first book about private-eye Kinsey Millhone. The back cover calls it "A class act," "Feisty," "The best new private eye," and "a refreshing heroine." Milt Gross photo.
Not long ago I read Sue Grafton's latest book about private eye Kensey Millhone. It was the "Z" book, that letter was in the title -- which I can't remember now nor can find among the dribble I've already drabbled.

Just goes to show. What I'm not sure. But I think I've read all those Kensey Millhone tales. I enjoyed them all.

They all, including this first one, had some things in common. First, there is the last and final action. I think I've read varieties of this in Grafton's other books, but in this scene, Millhone is hiding in a trash can on a beach from the bad guy. I love this ending, "He lifted the lid. The beams from his headlights shone against his golden cheek. He glanced over at me. In his right hand was a butcher knife with a ten-inch blade.

"I blew him away."

Now what kind of private eye would end up hiding in a trash can on a California beach? Sue Grafton's kind. The tale is a California-based drama, as if I remember correctly -- all hers were.

Without bothering with the plot, this tale also has an annoying part, too many details. All her books are this way. Don't know if she was trying to keep it long enough to be a book manuscript, or if it's just the way she writes them.

I will copy this summary of the plot off the back cover; "Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man. Until someone killed him. The jury believed it was his pretty young wife, Nikki, so they sent her to prison for eight years. Now Nikki's out on parole and Kinsey Millhone's in for trouble. Nikki hires Kinsey to to discover who really killed her husband. But the trail is eight years cold, and at the end is a chilling twist even Kensey doesn't suspect -- a second eight-year-old murder and a brand-new corpse."

This and all her books keep you reading, because they're interesting. I don't ever want to go to California for adventure, did that once for a conference. Part of that was spent on a beach, where the sun was too hot, and a lifeguard warned us not to get our feet wet in that no-so-pure beach water. But Grafton often covers California beaches in her tales.

This Bantam Book was published in cooperation with Holt, Rinehart, and Winston and came to life to be bought and read in 1987. There had been a hardcover edition done in 1982. The price on this paperback cover is $6.99, which is nowhere near the current $12.74 price set by Amazon.com or its $7.99 Kindle edition price.

From Amazon.con, "...like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Grafton has earned new respect for the mystery form. Readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling prowess. She has been named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America (2009) and is a recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award (2004).

"Sue Grafton has been married to Steve Humphrey for more than thirty years, and they divide their time between Montecito, California, and Louisville, Kentucky, where she was born and raised. Grafton, who has three children and four grandchildren, loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine."

I'm glad I don't live in Louisville. I still can't pronounce it correctly.

Grafton wrote a dozen Kinsey Millhone mysteries as sell as enough other books to total 71, according to Amazon.con. When my antique copy was printed, she had written six Kinsey Millhone books.

If you haven't yet read 'A' is for Alibi or any of Grafton's others, grab one and plan to enjoy your trip through murder mysterydom. They all have Grafton's features of writing, and they all are great adventure.


Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@roadrunner.com.

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2015


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