First in a popular mystery series.

Publication year: 1982
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1996
Format: print
Finnish translator: Reijo Kalvas
Page count: 224
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Viihdeviikarit

Kinsey Millhone is private detective in her thirties. She’s most comfortable in cramped quarters and she’s meticulous and patient which are a private detective’s best qualities. She’s also a loner and a very private person. She’s a bit surprised when Nikki Fife appears to her office. Mrs. Fife has just been released from prison where she’s been for eight years after she was convicted of her husband’s murder. However, Nikki still says that she’s innocent and she wants Kinsey to find the real murderer. That would not be easy after such a long time but Kinsey takes the case. She followed the trial but much to her surprise, she soon finds out information she didn’t know before.

The victim, Laurence Fife, had a been a divorce lawyer, a driven and ambition man and womanizer. Nikki had been his second wife and they had an infant son when Mr. Fife was poisoned. Fife’s first wife Gwen is supposedly still bitter. However, Kinsey finds out that a woman was poisoned with the same substance just four days after Fife’s death and the police looked for a connection. The poisoned woman was Fife’s firm’s accountant and they were rumored to have an affair but the police hadn’t been able to connect the murders.

Kinsey is quickly attracted to late Fife’s business partner. At the same time, Kinsey has another case going. She’s been hired to prove that Margie Threadgill is trying to commit insurance fraud. Kinsey parks in front of her house and tries to get pictures that show that Margie hasn’t hurt her back. This is pretty humorous and lightened the mood of the book.

Except for the romance, which is pretty brief, A is for Alibi is a pretty straight forward mystery story. Because the victim was poisoned, there’s more emphasis on motivation than opportunity and alibis, which is a bit ironic considering the title.

Kinsey drives around talking to people connected to the case. Most of them seem like ordinary people, some depressed, most trying to move on with their lives. Kinsey has just one cop contact who is all grumpy but agrees to help Kinsey. Instead, she seems to have a rather large network of fellow P.I.s which makes sense. Unfortunately, the few fat people in the book are presented in a really poor light.

This was a quick, fun read and I’ll probably continue with the series.

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