Review

The Alibi

by Sandra Brown

At
the center of this tightly woven tale of intrigue is a romance
between two strangers. When attorney Hammond Cross and psychologist
Alex Ladd meet at a country fair, neither is aware that the man
they have both recently met with has been murdered. After a night
of passion, the two return to their separate lives in Charleston,
SC only to learn that Lute Pettijohn, a hated real estate
developer, has been shot to death. When Hammond is assigned to
prosecute the case, he is chagrined to find out that his mystery
woman is the lead suspect. Romance-turned-suspense author Brown,
uses a wide knowledge of Charleston geography and society to frame
the intrigues of an intimately connected cast of characters.

Spanning seven days, THE ALIBI opens on the just discovered murder
scene. From the outset, multiple suspects are presented: the widow,
the investigating detective (also the victim's former in-law) and
an ambitious prosecutor. However, witnesses and forensic evidence
stack up against Dr. Alex Ladd. The situation is compromised by her
affair with the prosecuting attorney, Hammond, which she chooses
not to reveal though it is a perfect alibi. Not understanding
Alex's motives, Hammond begins to distrust her when he realizes
that their meeting was intentional. While concealing his connection
to both the victim and the suspect, he works to learn more about
why Alex refuses to divulge her reasons for visiting the
deceased.

The author finds time to sneak in a little clandestine romance for
the apparently ill-fated lovers. Brown is as gifted a romance
author as ever came down the pike. It is no surprise then that love
is at the crux of the couple's dilemma and ultimately overrides
their mistrust of one another.

The story unravels quickly without losing any of its tension. The
characters are well-developed, most are easy to identify with.
Brown does a clever job of cutting scenes abruptly then
interspersing flashbacks with the dealings of the murder
investigation to complete the pictures. The details of Hammond and
Alex's night together are revealed in memories, as they circle each
other warily. Brown's storytelling doesn't give anything up. There
are a lot of options but only the most shrewd whodunit fan will be
able to figure it out without grasping at straws. The dialogue is
also sharply executed. The harshness of Alex's interrogation is
completely believable in its inflammatory effects.

Brown includes a slimy character from Alex's past to further muddy
the waters of the investigation and the story. Bobby Trimble's
connection is an additional monkey wrench in the works. But in a
fast-paced climax, the author draws a bold line through the
labyrinth from start to finish. In the end, the killer will be an
obvious choice with obvious motives. And THE ALIBI will no longer
be an issue.

Reviewed by Sofrina Hinton on January 20, 2011

The Alibi
by Sandra Brown

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446608653
  • ISBN-13: 9780446608657