48 pages 1 hour read

Sue Grafton

A Is For Alibi

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1982

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Symbols & Motifs

The Letters of the Alphabet

The motif of the letters of the alphabet, starting with “A” in this installment, introduces readers to a literary device that methodically organizes the complex narrative of each book in the Alphabet Mysteries series. This motif not only adds a structural layer to the series but also echoes Millhone’s meticulous approach to detective work where each detail plays a crucial role in unveiling the truth.

While this strategy initially presents a systematic approach to mystery-solving, it indirectly engenders a deeper contemplation of Truth and Deception. With each book in the Alphabet series, it becomes apparent that the simplicity suggested by titles is misleading: Each novel contains an elaborate puzzle of human emotions, relationships, and dark secrets that are unraveled with each successive letter. For example, A Is for Alibi not only presents characters who all claim to have alibis for Laurence’s murder but also interrogates the nature of proof. The legal setting emphasizes that facts only count as truth if they can be proven, and skilled attorneys like Charlie know how to manipulate the law.

Alibis are usually considered keys to proving someone’s guilt or innocence, but Millhone notes that it's clear that “this was a murder where an alibi meant little or nothing” (27).