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Alibi: A Novel
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on June 23, 2017
While I have enjoyed Kanon's other books, this one is tedious to the point of being annoying.

Although I have enjoyed several of Kanon's other books, this one is extremely tedious, to the point of being irritating. Perhaps it is a failed effort at character development, but none of the characters is sympathetic, especially the "heroine" introduced near the beginning of the book, who starts well but then devolves into such hystrionics and obsessive behavior that she (and the book) loses all credibility. The premise of the book is interesting, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Kanon seems to specialize in historical fiction, especially the period in the immediate aftermath of WWII, and this book fits in that genre, but I advise you to skip it and read The Good German (much, much better than the movie, despite its talented cast, which changed the story in ways that detracted markedly from the original) and/or Leaving Berlin instead.
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on August 9, 2015
Many reviewers have summarized the plot, character development, etc. I have read almost all of Kanon's books - this is a very good book which is well written and deals with a topic that is absolutely fascinating - the moral ambiguities of war, where there is no clear cut distinction between good and evil; where ordinary people are thrust into situations where there is no correct response.

For many of us, whose parents and grandparents were European immigrants, survived the war and lived in these very circumstances, novels like this provide a small window into their psyche and experiences. They personally never talked about any of this, so for me, this is the only way I can begin to understand their extraordinarily complex lifes.

As an aside, Kanon's descriptions of Venice are wonderful; having been to Venice, this was an added highlight of the book!!
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on July 22, 2015
I'm normally a great fan of Joseph Kanon, but I was less excited by this book. Compared to his other works I found *Alibi* claustrophobic and obsessive, not particularly enjoyable. It struck me a bit too much like a replay of *Crime and Punishment* yet without a satisfactory resolution. Having lived in Venice for several years, I can promise other readers that Kanon's topographical rendition of the city is accurate without becoming belabored. The walk through his primary neighborhood, from the Carita' to the Salute is just as he describes it. It's a pity, though, that, like so many other foreigners' books on the city, either non-fiction or novelistic, this one rarely looks beyond outsiders' point-of-view, to the extent that actual Venetians barely figure at all in the story. Kanon situates the novel in the early spring, so there are very few tourists about, which is a blessing, except that instead he concentrates almost exclusively on the ex-pat community, with the exception of the homicide detective, Cavallini, and the leading lady, both of whom seldom raise above their own stereotypes.
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on September 11, 2017
This story starts with elegant word pictures of Venice with all the nuances we've grown to love about the place and deteriorates into a plodding ordeal that the reader has to endure. 150 pages of brilliant heart wrenching beauty followed by 250 pages of torturous dialogue and convoluted plot. Such potential, such a waste in the end.
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on October 19, 2014
Post-war Venice is a city that has survived the war almost intact.
Adam, an American soldier, has been hunting nazis, and comes to Venice at the urging of his mother, who has returned to resume her pre-war life, that of a wealthy socialite. But she is attracted to an Italian doctor who has perhaps been helping the Germans during the war. Thus Adam sets out to prevent what he sees as his mother's potential marital mistake.
Meanwhile, Adam meets and falls for a young Jewish woman who claims this same doctor killed her father during the war by sending him off to a concentration camp.
These complicated relationships lead to a disastrous confrontation, a murder, and the consequent investigation by the Venetian police. Mix in the war-time partisans, and Kanon's plot becomes a real winner.
The writing is excellent, precise and powerful. Kanon has a very direct style, not wasting time or words on superfluous descriptions. Yet we feel very intensely the mood of of the city, the dampness of the canals, the stones and bricks, the divergent areas of the city, the contrast between a deserted ghetto and St. Mark's Square. It is far from a travelogue, but as the story unfolds we feel we are there, in Venice.
A minor concern for me is the striking similarity between the plots of 'Alibi' and 'Istanbul Passage'. (See separate review.) But both are excellent novels and are highly recommended.
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on March 18, 2016
I have enjoyed all Joseph Kanon's novels. This one was very intriguing taking place in Venice with a former WW II information officer falling for a Jewish lady and their involvement is the accidental death of his mother's lover. It takes place right after the 2nd World War. The major character cannot leave things alone as he thinks he is doing what he can to improve their lot but all his efforts makes it much more difficult. She wants to let things be, get married and move on. It is her love for him that sticks by his side when wisdom dictates she would be better off leaving the area but it would be tough for a woman during the times to strike out on her own.
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on March 11, 2015
Intricate web of deceit in immediate post-war Venice, where Adam, a G-2 investigator in the US Army scrubbing for Nazis and collaborators, visits his rich American mother, a society lady of many affairs who's decided to return to Venice and has taken up with an Italian doctor she intends to marry. Adam meets and falls in love with a Venetian Jewish beauty who was sent to the camps and whose ill father was given over to the German transports by this same doctor. After the doctor disappears on the night of a huge society ball, everyone weaves their alibis -- and everyone turns out to have several things they'd rather no one knew. Tightly written, well-researched on history, geography, "feel" of Venice and the post-Mussolini era.
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on November 27, 2011
Venice in the immediate post-WW II era; political unrest as Italy sorts out the good guys from the Communists and the collaborationists; a love scenario between a native Venetian and an American widow (which one has the money?); the widow's son, fresh from army duty in Germany, where he sorted out which people were the active Nazis and which simply went along because they had no choice. Venice sinking into the sea, but trying to pretend that the war never happened and hoping the glitterati can take up just where they left off in 1939.

What a wonderfully volatile mixture, filled with possibilities for misunderstandings and murder. The two protagonists - Adam Miller, the soldier son; and Cladia, Adam's lover and an Italian survivor of the Jewish exodus during the latter stages of the war - are very different people. They face excruciating moral and practical dilemmas as the plot unfolds, thus providing the basis for one of the most tension-provoking reads I've recently encountered.

Although "Alibi" has a few scenes of violence, the scary parts are much more subtle, involving cat-and-mouse games with the police, the family, and those who either want to forget the indiscretions of the war period or want to make sure that every wrong is punished.

I'm a Joseph Kanon fan and have thoroughly enjoyed some of his other books such as "Los Alamos" and "The Good German." So I was ecstatic to find "Ailbi," and was definitely not disappointed.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 6, 2010
World War II has ended, and Venice is unscathed -- or so it would seem. However, when Nazi-hunter Adam Miller lands there to visit his mother after his release from the Army, he gradually finds that it reverberates with all the residual conflicts and tensions of the time. Sheltered at first among his mother's wealthy expatriate friends, all of them oblivious to the grim reality around them, Adam soon becomes involved with a mysterious young Jewish woman who somehow survived the camps, then launches an investigation of his mother's suitor, a Venetian doctor of an illustrious old family who seems too good to be true. His quickening relationship with the young woman, Claudia Grassini, and his hunt for the truth about Dr. Maglione's past merge in tragedy, baring the gaping sores left by the war and the deep roots of corruption in Italian society.

Alibi was the fourth of Joseph Kanon's five novels of suspense in the years following World War II. Like The Good German, perhaps the best known of his books because it was made into a movie starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, Alibi is set in Europe. All Kanon's books feature fully realized characters full of flaws and contradictions as well as the author's consummate mastery of suspense.

Somehow, though, Alibi is less satisfying than Kanon's other books. Adam Miller's motivation is at times difficult to grasp, and his relationship with Claudia Grassini, though entirely believable as a sexual adventure, is more difficult to understand on any deeper level.

(From Mal Warwick's Blog on Books)
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on May 7, 2017
Joseph Kanon is a master of the immediate post-war Europe novel. Alibi is set in Venice - which was largely spared the physical impact of the war - but everyone was affected in some way. Told through the perspective of a US veteran whose mother is a Venetian resident, Alibi's plot revolves around who did what in the war and everyone's attempt to rewrite the past.
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