A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton A is for Aggravating, Anguish, Awful, Apathetic...take your pick
I had heard the name Sue Grafton bantered around. After my aunt recommended it, I decided to check out her infamous alphabet series.
Kinsey Millhone is a former cop, a twice divorcee, and a private investigator. Nikki Fife, a woman accused, convicted, and imprisoned for murdering her philandering husband, Laurence Fife, has just been released on parole and wants her name cleared. She comes to Kinsey, who takes the case and begins the slow process of unraveling the truth hidden by eight years.

No one can say that Sue Grafton skips over the description. She details the surroundings, the people, Kinsey's thoughts, and more very much so that the setting and circumstances are real.
Kinsey is a unique protagonist, and the first person point of view is perfect for her. We get an intimate look into her mind as she interviews the suspects and slowly unravels the mystery. Also, I enjoyed seeing Kinsey doing more than one investigation. All too often, in books, movies, and TV, we see investigators focusing solely on one mystery at a time. This book portrays it in a more realistic fashion.
Lastly, the final few chapters rush together into intense, edge-of-your-seat action. And the ending is a surprise--sort of.

First off, Kinsey Millhone comes off as less a person and more a vehicle for telling the story. Her personal feelings appear so infrequently that I began to feel that she was truly emotionless. The narrative is delivered in a matter-of-fact manner, which is nice, but please, show some emotion! Give an opinion! Quit hiding behind descriptions! Furthermore, Kinsey frequently acts very masculine. I had to remind myself on numerous occasions that she was a woman. And since the author is obviously a woman, this is rather sad (I have read better female perspectives from men!). Add to that how often the woman drinks (three glasses of wine at least in one day--see pages 227, 244, 248!), and I wonder how she's not an alcoholic.
Other characters are poor. Arlette is treated like a stupid fat person. Nikki is as unemotional and unreachable as Kinsey. Charlotte is a drunk. Gwen is a little better but not much. Charlie drove me up the wall, and the others are just too minor.
Another bothersome aspect is that the story really doesn't kick in until 130 pages into the book. The first 130 pages detail lots of backstory, interviewing everyone and his/her mother, and pretty much anything that had nothing to do with the mystery. All this could have easily taken half that time. In the about 200 pages, Kinsey has jogged/run at least 4 times, slept about as many times, has drunk many times that many glasses of alcohol (as I mentioned previously), has flirted three times with Charlie, has called Charlie at least that many, has driven all over southern California and Nevada, has gotten sick in Las Vegas, has checked into three motels, and has stumbled upon a murder. Yes, she has interviewed almost a dozen people, but has she really learned anything in that time? Not much, really.
As if this wasn't bad enough, the mystery is really not all that spectacular. It had the potential of being interesting, but Grafton failed to take the opportunity to bring it to the next level (mostly because she writes it so that Kinsey doesn't really do anything until the last 20 pages). Most of Kinsey's investigating involves convenient guessing. Kinsey doesn't really surface any evidence, nor does she glean anything really important from all her interviews. She just happens to make very good guesses.
Lastly, Kinsey's relationship with Charlie is absolutely insane. I mean, it is so completely obvious from the first introduction (how "sexual" Charlie was) that Grafton planned on throwing these two together. Grafton does a poor job of giving the couple chemistry, other than a few obligatory sex scenes. If Kinsey is supposed to be such a professional, why does she completely forget conflict of interests and sleep with a suspect? And why does it take her almost 250+ pages to figure this out?

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Expect a lot of da**, he**, sh**, and our favorite f-word.
Every situation that Sharon Napier is in requires several sexual comments that may or may not be explicit. Charlie Scorsoni, Colin Fife (a 12-year-old child), and numerous other people (Henry, etc.) are said to exude sexuality (another aggravating part). Laurence Fife had committed adultery several times before his death. Several others have extra-marital relations.
Violence is remarkably tame. Three people are murdered (one via hit-and-run), but the descriptions are vague. A security locker is broken into.

The first few chapters were pretty good. But I could never quite get into the book. I really couldn't associate with Kinsey, the mystery was ho-hum (straight out of an 80's TV series), and the other characters were unremarkable. If I ever do read anymore of these books, I will definitely read more reviews to get a better idea of what I am in store for. And I will definitely take my aunt's recommendation with a grain of salt.