Saturday, June 9, 2012

A is for Alibi: A Review

Before starting this book, I had some doubts on whether I'd like it or not. The reason for most of those doubts came from some reviews I read on Goodreads, which varied from one star to five stars. There was one review in particular that caught my attention. A man said he read the book for a required class at law school, and claimed you couldn't tell the main character (Kinsey) was a woman until around halfway through the book. For something like that to go un-noted for so long in a book raised serious questions about the author's capabilities. Luckily for me, this was not the case.

The character Grafton crafted into Kinsey Millhone is a very unique one. She never states anything about herself other than the facts, but gives highly detailed and opinionated descriptions of everyone she encounters. She makes herself run around two miles every few days and not only is she not good at it, she absolutely hates it. She usually ends her runs with a beer or glass of whatever kind of wine. She has her own office and business (which seems to pay fairly well), yet she will be the first to tell you she is the cheapest person she knows. She would rather stay at a crummy hotel in a dangerous part of town than spend even twenty bucks more for a competent person to man the front desk.

Grafton's plot for this story was a good one, set up to be unexpected from the very beginning. Kinsey is on a case eight-years passed when the accused, Nikki, pays her to dig out the real culprit. Kinsey has her doubts, but starts the case nevertheless. What goes from grasping at straws soon turns to gasping for air as the true killer feels the ground beneath them shake.

What I loved about this book was the character descriptions and developments. People aren't split into good and bad, and Grafton does a great job of penning humanity into even the crudest character. While you see the rough edges, you see what made them that way as well. The situations in here are realistic, from the terrible running, to falling asleep and missing an appointment, to not being able to sneak quietly into a trash can. Another very pleasant surprise was an ending you honestly didn't see coming.

I can't really think of much I didn't like. Some of the detail was a bit overwhelming, such as the type of landscaping around every neighborhood and the chase scene, but I feel I can't fault someone for being too detailed (especially when it's a mystery starring a private investigator.) After finishing "A is for Alibi," I am very excited to move on to her next novel "B is for Burglar."

All-in-all, I would give this book four and a half stars.