A is for Alibi
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3.85 / 5

"A is for Alibi" Summary

By Sue Grafton

mystery | 308 pages | Published in NaN

A IS FOR AVENGERA 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.A IS FOR ACCUSEDThat'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. A IS FOR ALIBI 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 "X" “Y” Is for YesterdayThe letter Z was unfinished at the time of her death 12/28/2017


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

Private investigator Kinsey Millhone investigates the murder of a prominent divorce lawyer in a small California town.


"A is for Alibi" is a captivating mystery novel written by Sue Grafton. This thrilling book introduces readers to the fictional world of Kinsey Millhone, a private investigator, as she delves into a complex murder case. Set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, California, the story unfolds with suspense, intrigue, and unexpected twists that keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Brief Synopsis

The novel begins with the release of Nikki Fife, who had been imprisoned for the murder of her husband, Laurence Fife. Nikki claims that she was innocent and seeks the help of Kinsey Millhone to uncover the truth and find the real killer. As Kinsey delves into the case, she uncovers a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, leading her to confront dangerous individuals and face unexpected challenges. The plot is set in the vibrant and sometimes seedy locales of Santa Teresa, adding depth and authenticity to the narrative.

Main Characters

The novel features several key characters, each playing a crucial role in the development of the plot and the unfolding of the mystery.

Kinsey MillhoneA determined and resourceful private investigator with a sharp intellect and a keen eye for detail.
Nikki FifeA woman who was wrongly convicted of her husband's murder and seeks Kinsey's help to clear her name.
Laurence FifeNikki's late husband, a prominent divorce attorney whose murder forms the basis of the mystery.
Charlie ScorsoniA former acquaintance of Nikki's and a key figure in the investigation.
Tap GrangerA local bar owner with connections to the case and a potential suspect.

Summary of Story Points

Chapters 1-5:

The novel commences with Kinsey Millhone being approached by Nikki Fife, who was recently released from prison after serving time for her husband's murder. Kinsey agrees to take on the case and begins her investigation by interviewing individuals connected to the deceased Laurence Fife. She uncovers shocking revelations and inconsistencies in the original investigation, leading her to suspect that the wrong person may have been convicted.

Chapters 6-10:

As Kinsey delves deeper into the case, she encounters resistance and threats from unexpected sources. She unearths new evidence that casts doubt on the initial investigation and suggests the involvement of other individuals with motives to harm Laurence Fife. The tension and suspense build as Kinsey faces increasing danger in her pursuit of the truth.

Chapters 11-15:

Kinsey's investigation leads her to Charlie Scorsoni, a former acquaintance of Nikki Fife, and she uncovers a complex web of relationships and hidden agendas. As Kinsey delves into the past, she begins to piece together the events leading up to the murder, shedding light on the intricate connections between the characters involved. The plot thickens, and the stakes are raised as Kinsey edges closer to the truth.

Chapters 16-20:

The intensity of the investigation escalates as Kinsey delves into the shady underworld of Santa Teresa, encountering dangerous individuals and facing personal risks. She follows leads that take her to unexpected places, uncovering shocking revelations and facing unforeseen obstacles in her pursuit of justice for Nikki Fife. The suspense reaches a crescendo as the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place.

Main Events

The main events in "A is for Alibi" revolve around Kinsey Millhone's investigation into the murder of Laurence Fife and her relentless pursuit of the truth. From her initial meeting with Nikki Fife to her encounters with suspicious characters and perilous situations, the story is filled with gripping events that propel the plot forward. Kinsey's unraveling of the intricacies surrounding the case, the uncovering of new evidence, and the unexpected twists and turns keep readers engrossed from beginning to end.

Themes and Insights


  1. Justice and Redemption: The theme of seeking justice and redemption is prominent throughout the novel, as characters grapple with past mistakes and the consequences of their actions. Nikki Fife's quest to clear her name and Kinsey's determination to uncover the truth underscore the theme of seeking justice in the face of adversity.
  2. Betrayal and Deceit: The novel explores the theme of betrayal and deceit, as hidden motives and secret agendas come to light. The complex relationships between the characters reveal layers of betrayal and deception, creating a sense of tension and suspicion.
  3. Perseverance and Resilience: Kinsey Millhone's unwavering determination and resilience in the face of danger and obstacles highlight the theme of perseverance. Her relentless pursuit of the truth serves as a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the pursuit of justice.


The novel provides insights into the complexities of human relationships, the impact of past decisions on the present, and the enduring nature of the human spirit. It delves into the darker aspects of human nature, exploring the lengths to which individuals will go to protect their secrets and the consequences of their actions. Through Kinsey's perspective, readers gain insight into the tenacity and courage required to confront the truth, even in the face of danger and uncertainty.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "A is for Alibi" are sure to be captivated by the intricate plot, well-developed characters, and the suspenseful narrative that keeps them guessing until the final reveal. The novel offers a compelling glimpse into the world of private investigation, as well as the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of justice. With its engaging storytelling and unexpected twists, the book leaves readers with a sense of satisfaction and a desire to explore more of Kinsey Millhone's thrilling adventures in subsequent novels.


In conclusion, "A is for Alibi" is a riveting mystery novel that enthralls readers with its compelling storyline, well-crafted characters, and thought-provoking themes. Sue Grafton's masterful storytelling and skillful unraveling of the mystery make the novel a must-read for fans of the genre. As the first installment in the Kinsey Millhone series, "A is for Alibi" sets the stage for a series of captivating mysteries that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages in anticipation of the next thrilling case.

A is for Alibi FAQ

  1. What is 'A is for Alibi' about?

    The book 'A is for Alibi' is a mystery novel by Sue Grafton featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. In this book, Kinsey is hired to investigate the unsolved murder of a prominent divorce lawyer's wife, which leads her into a complex web of deception and danger.

  2. Is 'A is for Alibi' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A is for Alibi' is the first book in Sue Grafton's 'Alphabet Mysteries' series featuring Kinsey Millhone.

  3. Who is the main character in 'A is for Alibi'?

    The main character in 'A is for Alibi' is Kinsey Millhone, a private investigator known for her independence and determination.

  4. What genre is 'A is for Alibi'?

    'A is for Alibi' is a mystery novel, specifically a detective fiction, featuring a strong female protagonist.

  5. Is 'A is for Alibi' suitable for young readers?

    While 'A is for Alibi' is a mystery novel, it may contain adult themes and content that may not be suitable for young readers. It's recommended for mature audiences.