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"A" Is for Alibi  
A is for Alibi.jpg
Cover of the book "A" Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton.
Author Sue Grafton
Country United States
Language English
Series Alphabet Mysteries
Genre(s) Mystery
Publisher Henry Holt and Company
Publication date 1982-04-15
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 274 pp. first edition
ISBN 9780805013344
OCLC Number 7835758
Followed by "B" Is for Burglar

"A" Is for Alibi is the first novel in the Kinsey Millhone series by crime writer Sue Grafton. It was published in 1982.[1] The first printing of "A" Is for Alibi was 7,500 copies.[2]

Grafton based the story to some extent on her own 'fantasies' of murdering her then husband prior to divorce. The choice of murder through a substitution of the contents of an antihistamine tablet with oleander meant that an alibi held no value since the tablet could have been switched a considerable time prior to someone actually taking the tablet.

Plot summary

The first novel in the "Alphabet Mysteries" series introduces the character of Kinsey Millhone as she looks into through the facts surrounding the death of prominent divorce lawyer Laurence Fife, whose murder eight years previously was blamed on his then wife, Nikki Fife. After being released from prison, Nikki hires Kinsey to find the true murderer.

As she digs deeper through the facts surrounding the investigation, Kinsey gets into a personal relationship with Charlie Scorsoni, Laurence Fife's ex-partner who inherited the company upon his death.

While flipping through police reports, Kinsey discovers that Laurence's death was linked to that of another attorney in Los Angeles, Libby Glass. Both died under the same circumstances - oleander capsules were substituted for allergy pills - leading Kinsey to discover that rumours were circulating about an affair between the two.

A Santa Teresa citizen, Charlotte Mercer, who was also sleeping with Laurence Fife, points Kinsey in the direction of Fife's ex-secretary, Sharon Napier. She reveals that Sharon was blackmailing Laurence for ruining her mother's life by sleeping with her and then breaking up with her. Kinsey sets off for Las Vegas to track the woman down.

On the way, she stops to visit Libby Glass's parents. At the same time, she meets Libby's ex-boyfriend Lyle, who she considers fishy. She is granted the right to go through some of Libby's things on her way back from Vegas.

She sets up a meeting with Sharon Napier, which is prevented when Sharon is killed in her home. Kinsey feels guilty, believing that tracking down Sharon may have provided her killer with a way to get to her. On the way back from Vegas, she stops at the Glass home. When she is led downstairs, she's shot at by someone who has been going through Libby's old things. At her hotel, she discovers a love note from Laurence Fife addressed to "Elizabeth", who she assumes is Libby Glass.

Sometime in between, Kinsey meets Laurence's children, Greg and Diane. Both assert that he was a chronic workaholic who constantly made people miserable. Diane tells Kinsey how their guard dog, Bruno, was killed while Laurence was out of town with Nikki, their son Colin, and Greg. She contends that because of this, someone was able to enter the house and switch the capsules.

Kinsey meets Garry Steinberg, Libby's old boss, to get ask about her professional relationship with Laurence Fife. She also meets up with Nikki and her son Colin, who is deaf. When showing him a photo album Diane had given her, Kinsey is bothered by his identifying Gwen (Laurence's first wife, who he left for Nikki) as 'Daddy's mother'. From this, she guesses that Gwen and Laurence had been having an affair, and that when Colin had walked in on them in an embrace, Laurence had covered up for it by addressing her as his mother.

Subsequently Kinsey learns that the letter she had found with Libby's belongings belonged not to Libby, but to Elizabeth Napier, Sharon's mother, and had been planted there by someone to make it appear as if Libby and Laurence had been having an affair.

Gwen confesses to switching Laurence's pills, and is subsequently run down by a car in the street and killed.

Kinsey confronts Garry Steinberg with a theory that Charlie Scorsoni had been embezzling money from the accounts. She speculates that Libby found out about it, and that he had used Laurence's death as a cover for her murder. She also believes that Charlie is the Santa Teresa attorney with whom Libby was having the affair.

Her theory is later proved, and in a dramatic confrontation, Charlie threatens Kinsey with a knife, to which she responds by shooting him. In the epilogue, she submits a report saying: "You try to keep life simple, but in the end it never works, and all you have is yourself."


  1. ^ Morris, Anne (1994-05-13). "Mystery author working her way through the alphabet". The Austin American-Statesman: p. D1.  
  2. ^ Paul, Steve (1992-05-11). "'N Is for Novelist,' not mystery writer Sue Grafton has arrived, thanks to Kinsey Millhone". The Kansas City Star: p. D1.  


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