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by Joseph Kanon
Sphere, April 2007
416 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0751537268

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In 1946, Europe is struggling to recover from the devastating effects of World War II. Adam Miller, an American soldier who has been working as a war crimes investigator, comes to Venice to stay with his mother. He finds that she has fallen in love with a Venetian doctor, who may well be interested in her simply for her money. Adam is not expecting to fall in love with Claudia, a Jewish girl, and when the two worlds collide, the effects are devastating for all concerned.

In ALIBI, Kanon has crafted a fine novel. His prose brings Venice alive, making it as much a character in the novel as any of the flesh and blood protagonists. He paints a powerful picture of an expatriate society that has endeavoured to blot out the war and its effects, attempting to live in a universe of parties, dinners and drinks.

Kanon superbly describes the ensuing effects as the seamier side of life forces its way into the expatriate bubble. No one wishes to discuss collaboration and working with the Nazis, but Adam Miller wants to bring this scourge to the surface. Kanonís characters are interesting, all with stories to tell. They are tortured or with secrets to hide and the novel is captivating as it moves towards an inevitable denouement.

The plot itself works out very well. We may well guess one of the early twists, but Kanonís real skill is developing the story from that point onwards, as Adam Miller seems caught up in a waking nightmare. This novel would make an excellent transition to the big screen, like one of Kanonís previous works, THE GOOD GERMAN. The quality of the writing is such that a reader will lose themselves in the powerful world of post-wartime Venice and the ethical issues floating around collaboration.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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