A disturbing story of post-War Venice; an American serviceman's visit to his widowed mother, a socialite who has returned to the city and resumed a relationship with an old beau, turns into a nightmare of old war crimes, cover-ups, an almost-accidental murder, and an intense, doomed lovestory of the young American and a concentration camp survivor.
Very interesting story set in Venice at the end of WW11.
Atmospheric and compelling, Joseph Kanon's ALIBI takes us to glittering post-War Venice, where La Serenissima's stunningly beautiful facade becomes a transparent scrim, barely hiding the ugly truths of the recent past. The young American narrator learns firsthand how moral absolutes can blur and become as evanescent as a glimpse of Venice in the fog. A thought-provoking and disturbing novel.
By Patrick Anderson --washingtonpost.com
Former publishing executive Joseph Kanon drew me into his fourth novel with a beguiling first sentence -- "After the war, my mother took a house in Venice" -- that promised both the beauties of that great city and the intrigue of the postwar era. To a great extent, the novel keeps that promise. Kanon is an elegant, evocative writer, and his story is replete with rich glimpses of Venice: "Above all, the city was still beautiful, every turn of a corner a painting, the water a soft pastel in the early evening, before the lamps came on. Then the music started at Florian's and the boats rocked gently at the edge of the piazzetta, and it all seemed timeless, lovely, as if the war had never happened."
From Publishers Weekly
It's late 1945 at the start of this atmospheric historical thriller, and G.I. Adam Miller, officially assigned to ferret out Nazi war criminals in Germany, joins his widowed mother, Grace, who has recently arrived in Venice from New York to resume her life as a wealthy American expatriate. Together, they flow into the social eddies of the upper class, determined to pick up where they left off in 1939. Grace has met an old flame, Gianni Maglione, a distinguished doctor whom Adam suspects of gold-digging. Meanwhile, Adam himself meets Jewish Claudia Grassini, who survived the Nazi pogroms by becoming the mistress of a powerful Italian Fascist. The novel's languid pace picks up when Claudia meets Maglione, whom she accuses not only of being a Nazi collaborator but also of having condemned her own father to Auschwitz. Further complications arise with the appearance of Rosa, an Italian operative and former partisan. Kanon (The Good German, etc.) keeps his complex plotinvolving murder, elaborate alibis, false accusations and a web of secrets spinning back to the waron track, although the various entanglements aren't always neatly unraveled. Adam and Claudia's love affair provides the requisite romance, but there's no sense that they find much to like in one another. More interesting is Kanon's portrait of a pathetic and hopelessly naïve group of wealthy people out of touch with the postwar world's reality.