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Alibi: A Novel Hardcover
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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 plot—involving murder, elaborate alibis, false accusations and a web of secrets spinning back to the war—on 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. Agent, Amanda Urban. Author tour. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
In The Good German (2001), Kanon superbly evoked the post-apocalyptic, pockmarked moonscape of 1946 Germany. Now he turns to postwar Venice, where there are no pockmarks but the survivors are equally shell-shocked by the nearness of evil. Adam Miller, fresh from a stint as a war crimes investigator in Frankfurt, arrives in Vienna to visit his globe-trotting mother, who is holding tenuously to the remains of her fortune and embarking on an autumnal romance with a Venetian doctor whose wartime associations with the Nazis remain troubling if obscure. Miller begins a tumultuous romance with a Jewish woman whose own wartime experience has left her with deep psychic wounds. Soon enough the past can no longer remain hidden as a stunning murder leaves Adam torn between righting wrongs and protecting those he loves and himself. In a world where alibis are the currency of the era--everyone was "somewhere else when the air-raid sirens covered the sounds of people being dragged off"--Adam attempts to tread lightly through a landscape loaded with moral land mines. As before, Kanon juxtaposes a powerful love story and a gripping thriller against a palpable historical moment, but this time his hero can't quite shoulder the burden, his naive American assumptions about right and wrong leaving him ill-equipped to respond and never quite able to garner our full sympathy. And, yet, the novel holds us completely, with its vision of a sadly inadequate hero striking deep at our worst fears about ourselves. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!!
However, I absolutely loved the last sections and in particular the ending. Seldom is a crime novel brought to a conclusion as completely and as satisfyingly as was this one. The ending was brilliant and featured no loose ends or characters left hanging while you wonder what became of them.
The story itself was all about compromising your values, your ethics, and in the end, your morality. Everyone in the story faced these decisions on some level. Inspector Cavallini was an inspired character; extremely smooth and polished, crafty and clever, ruthless and brutal, and driven by his own agenda. As we go along, we see that he does not solve crimes as much as he cleans up the aftermath. He had thrived in pre-war Italy and in Fascist WWII Italy. Clearly he was now in firm control of his fate in post-war Italy.
I would love to see where these fictional people were ten and twenty years later, since the ending of this novel seemed to be a jumping-off point for new lives in far off lands for several of the characters. It was maddening to see the various players acting as if they were now friends when (although unspoken) everyone seemed to have learned some very dark secrets about each of the others ... and Cavallini was no one to be trusting with your dark secrets.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Post-WW-II Venice, as well as presenting an...Read more