fredag den 30. januar 2009

Sue Grafton, A for alibi (1982)

Denne anmeldelse er dels svaret på ugens Gæt-en-bog, dels tæller den som "suspense and thriller reading challenge" nr 2.

Bogen er den første i Sue Graftons alfabetserie, hvor hun skriver en krimi for hvert bogstav i alfabetet om samme hovedperson, Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey er 32 år gammel, arbejder som privatdetektiv i Californien, er skilt to gange og har ingen børn. Ligesom Piet Heins berømte kat, er Kinsey helt sin egen, og man kan sige, at hun foretrækker at ´rejse uden bagage´. Som det nedenstående citat viser, begynder handlingen så at sige bagfra med denne tilståelse; "I forgårs slog jeg én ihjel..."

Kinsey påtager sig at hjælpe Nikki Fife, der nogle år tidligere blev dømt for mordet på sin utro og ubehagelige ægtemand Laurence. Nikki er lige blevet prøveløsladt, og vil gerne have hjælp til at finde den virkelige morder. Kinsey får adgang til sagsmappen, og opdager hurtigt, at et lignende giftmord blev begået nogle få dage efter mordet på Laurence, og konkluderer at noget er galt.

Sue Graftons miljø- og personbeskrivelser fungerer rigtig godt. Selv et dansk familiemenneske kan sagtens identificere sig med Kinsey og nyde at kigge hende over skulderen. Hun er virkelig et bekendskab værd med sin minimalistiske livsstil, en fremragende detektiv som samtidig er elendig til at håndtere menneskelige relationer. Kinsey er drengepigen uden sans for tøj, frisure og make-up, og hvis hun har andet på end cowboybukser eller løbetøj, for eksempel ´den lille sorte´, er det helt sikkert en form for forklædning.

Gennem hendes øjne møder læseren et bredt udsnit af Californiens befolkning, høj som lav, tynd som (ekstremt) tyk, og som regel involveret i en eller anden form for terapi. Man nyder hendes veludviklede talent for at lyve, fuppe og smyge sig ind, hvor hun strengt taget ikke har noget at gøre, og vender hurtigt siderne, når det viser sig, hvor farlig jagten på en ustraffet morder kan være, både for Kinsey og andre; "Jeg hørte døren gå op og hendes dæmpede, overraskede udbrud. Og så hørte jeg et kort, nærmest hult knald."

Jeg ved ikke, om amerikanske læsere vil opleve bogen som ´gammel´. Personligt synes jeg, den holder sig rigtig fint af en syvogtyveårig at være, men det er muligvis bare fordi jeg selv er langt bagud for min tid? Bogen slipper i hvert fald hurtigt op, og så er det jo godt, at der er fireogtyve tilbage. Sue Grafton er på nuværende tidspunkt nået til bogstavet T (T is for Trespasss) på engelsk, og "R for rikochet" på dansk. Grafton har i øvrigt inspireret adskillige kvindelige skandinaviske krimiforfattere (mere herom senere).

Sue Grafton, A is for Alibi (1982)
This review is not only this week´s Bait in the Box, but also "suspense and thriller reading challenge" no 2 (private detective thriller).

The book is the first one in Sue Grafton´s alphabet series, a crime novel for each letter in the alphabet about the same main character, Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey is 32 years old, a private eye in California, twice divorced with no children. Kinsey is a truly independent woman who likes traveling unencumbered. As the following quotation will show you, the plot begins backwards, so to speak, with a confession, "The day before yesterday I killed someone ..."

Kinsey agrees to help Nikki Fife who was convicted of poisoning her unfaithful and unpleasant husband Laurence. Nikki, who claims she is innocent, has just been paroled and wants the real killer brought to justice. When Kinsey gains access to the original files, she soon discovers that a similar poisoning case took place a few days after the murder of Laurence, and concludes that something is wrong.

Sue Grafton is a deft hand at describing environment and characters. Even this Danish family person finds it quite easy to identify with Kinsey and enjoys experiencing the world as seen from her point of view. She is a delightful acquaintance with her minimalist lifestyle, - brilliant at her work but lousy at handling relationships with people. Kinsey is the tomboy with no sense of style or make-up who cuts his hair with her nail-scissors so if she is not wearing jeans or tracksuit, e.g. her LBD, she must be in disguise.

Through her eyes the reader meets a cross section of the Californian population, rich and poor, thin and (extremely) thick, and usually engaged in some sort of therapy. I thoroughly enjoyed her talent for lying, conning and slipping into places where she should not be, and felt myself turning the pages a bit faster when it transpired how dangerous the pursuit of a murderer who feels safe could be - for Kinsey as well as for others, "I heard the door open and her muffled, surprised exclamation. And then I heard a short, rather hollow pop."

I don´t know if the book would strike American readers as ´dated´. Personally I think it is twenty-seven years young, but this may possibly be because I am far behind my time? If you feel about this cosy whodunnit the way I do, you will be happy to realize there are still twenty-four to go. Sue Grafton published "T is for Trespass" in December 2007. Grafton has certainly been a source of inspiration for many female Scandinavian crime writers (more about this later).

Also reviewed by Erika, Kiss My Book.

10 kommentarer:

Heather sagde ...

NOt a dated read. I think I read it about 2 years ago and really enjoyed it. I have a bunch more of them lined up for future reads.

Dorte H sagde ...

I saw a review recently where the reader wondered why Kinsey did not use a mobile phone. She laughed at herself when she realized that the story took place in the 1980s - she hadn´t noticed at all. And it is nice to read a story once in a while which does not depend on DNA or computer registers, I think.

Red lady-Bonnie sagde ...

I have read this whole series and still enjoy them. I think that this series is well written and keeps you interested in the escapades of Kinsey as she goes moves into the future! I hope that you enjoy the series!

Dorte H sagde ...

I have also read some of them, in fact :)
I find that I don´t always remember much about them, but I do like Kinsey a lot. This series is nice & cosy entertainment, and I think that is what Sue Grafton aims at.
I have heard, by the way, that she wrote the first one because she had just divorced her husband and wanted to kill him. So this is what she did in "A is for Alibi". True or not, it is an amuzing thought.

Bernadette in Australia sagde ...

This is one of the few series I have kept up with (T is sitting in my TBR pile and I have read all the rest in order). So many series lose quality over time but this one is still good mainly because I like Kinsey.

Dorte H sagde ...

Yes, Kinsey is certainly likeable :)
Thanks for visiting me - perhaps it is still too hot at home?

Beth F sagde ...

I was right!! This is the book I had in mind for the bait in the box!

Dorte H sagde ...

Good that some people could guess it. I think I was a bit unfair, using such an old book :)
But this week I am being even more unfair - to most of my visitors, that is.

DeSeRt RoSe sagde ...

Just added your link in my review :)

http://desertrosebooklogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/is-for-alibi-by-sue-grafton.html

Dorte H sagde ...

Thank you :)