THE ALIBI Author: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 ... more »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.« less