One rainy afternoon, about 9 years ago, I went to the local library. I had a toddler and an infant, and the library was right next door to our apartment, so we used to drop by a lot. And I would wander around and pick up random books that looked interesting for me to read while I was up with a cranky baby all night. One of the books I got on that rainy day was a dog-eared paperback called A is for Alibi.
And then I read as many of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books as I could get my hands on. And these days, I get a little bit excited when a new one comes out. There’s nothing new here, but that’s ok with me. I’m not looking for these books to rock the literary world. I’m just hoping to visit Kinsey’s little world for a few hours, and see what — if anything — has changed since our last visit.
I like Kinsey Millhone, in spite of herself. Kinsey is sort of a pain in the ass, but she really doesn’t care. She understands that she’s a bit prickly and demanding of people, she has a hard time letting people get close to her (unless they are over 85 years old), and she has terrible luck with men. She has a terrible diet, she can’t be bothered to care about her appearance, and she’s cheap. But she considers wine and toilet paper to be the only things that really need to be on a shopping list, and that’s good enough for me.
I also love the fact that these books take place in the 1980s. Kinsey doesn’t have a computer or a cell phone. She uses micro-fiche and goes to the library or town hall to get research done. And she talks and listens to people. So much more interesting than just doing a google search.
In this book, Kinsey is juggling a few things at once, per usual. First off, she is hired by a wealthy woman to find the son she gave up for adoption when she was a teenager. But this woman isn’t exactly who she claims to be, and Kinsey starts snooping around to get to the truth. Between the art heists, secret identities, and crazy divorce settlements, this plot was my favorite of the three.
In addition, Kinsey finds herself caught up in a case from over 20 years prior that her colleague, the late Pete Wollinsky, was investigating. She gets in over her head with this one, and the outcome was both frightening and disturbing.
To balance the upsetting bits, Kinsey also gets involved with her new neighbors — an elderly couple that she immediately dislikes, but her landlord Henry does like. This plot was somewhat ridiculous, but I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed Kinsey’s reaction to every little thing the neighbors got up to.
I love Kinsey’s little day-to-day rituals. After 24 books, we know that she’s going to jog for three miles every day. We know that she only wears turtlenecks and jeans. We know that she wants a chardonnay at the end of the day, usually at Rosie’s tavern with Henry. I was disappointed that Kinsey only ate one peanut butter and pickle sandwich in this book, but was glad that she made up for the lack of that delicacy with a fried salami and pepper jack sandwich that she was drooling over. The lady likes her sandwiches, for sure.
I definitely look forward to each new entry into Grafton’s alphabet series, and I’ll be said when she finally gets to Z. Reading these books is a comforting feeling — you know what you’re going to get, and you enjoy it, like slippers on a cold day, or a nice cup of tea when its raining.