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Alibi by Joseph Kanon

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Having been to Venice myself, I was able to appreciate Kanon’s novel Alibi, in which the city acts as a both a backdrop and a character.

Set in 1946, immediately after World War II, Alibi is the story of American soldier Adam Miller, whose widowed mother has relocated herself to Venice in an attempt to relive her golden years. Adam follows her there once his tour of duty is ended and falls in love with a Jewish woman named Claudia, who opens his eyes to a very different view of Venice than that populated by his mother–its darker side, its hidden corners where evil and fear lurk. Alibi is a beautifully written novel, both a love story and a murder mystery thriller that is seamlessly married by Kanon’s perfect prose. He turns a lovely phrase without being overblown or high-handed, and Alibi is a joy to read.

While having an understanding of Venice was helpful to me in reading and enjoying the novel, Kanon does a fine job of giving even an uninitiated reader a vivid picture of the city, far beyond what any travel guide could offer. Maps of the city printed on the book’s endpapers are also a nice reference point.

Anyone who has enjoyed Daniel Hecht’s Cree Black novels would probably also enjoy Alibi. While this book does not offer the supernatural subtext of Hecht’s series, Kanon’s novel strikes a similar tone: dark and intriguing, pulling the reader in and not letting go until it’s finished.

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About ZMethos

  • This book review has been selected for Advance.net. You’ll be able to find this and other Blog Critics reviews at such places at Cleveland.com’s Book Reviews column.

  • Kanon really likes exploring this thematic territory, doesn’t he? I have one of his books sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. I like his stuff a lot — he’s a good writer. But he’s kind of a downer.

    Nice job on this, Z.