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ALIBI by Joseph Kanon


by Joseph Kanon

Pub Date: April 12th, 2005
ISBN: 0-8050-7886-X
Publisher: Henry Holt

Venice—just after WWII—full of charm and romance, secrets and lies.

Adam Miller, newly discharged from the U.S. Army, joins his mother, newly arrived in Venice. She's taken a house on the Grand Canal. Both are at loose ends—Grace because it’s in her nature to be that way, Adam because the war and its aftermath have unsettled him, left him emotionally wary. At a party, however, he meets lovely Claudia Grassini and plunges into a passionate affair with her. The attraction is mutual, but Claudia is a complex woman with a painful, embittering history. She’s an Italian Jew the Fascists sent to their pet concentration camp at Fossoli, where she knows she should have died along with all the others. The fact that she didn’t has burdened her with survivor guilt. Meanwhile, Grace has romance in her life, too. His name is Gianni Mangioni, a doctor, an aristocrat and an old flame. In the years between the wars, they were part of a circle of friends who romped together the way only the rich and privileged can. But Adam doesn't trust Gianni, senses something bogus about him, wonders what he was up to when the Germans were in Occupation. Until his discharge, Adam was an intelligence officer and war crimes investigator in Berlin, and he decides to make a project out of Gianni, a decision that opens Pandora’s box with a vengeance: people die, lives are ruined and Adam finds himself confronting excruciating choices—not only the one between justice and legality, but the rarer, more subtle, harder one between justice and morality.

Interesting characters, an affecting love story and a strong plot that unfortunately sags midway. But Kanon (The Good German, 2001, etc.) is a true talent: eventually, he might write thrillers as impeccable as Graham Greene’s.