Book review: Alibi by Lynda LaPlante

Sunday, January 7, 2024 Permalink

Alibi by Lynda LaPlante was originally published in 1998 as Trial & Retribution II and I initially wondered if it’d been revised as there’s mention of someone using a mobile phone. I dug into the recesses of my mind to recall if mobile phones were around back then and think they were…. but only just. And given there’s hefty use of home answering machines I decided it is safe to say it hasn’t been updated but remains firmly set in the late 1990s.

It’s listed as the second in the Trial and Retribution series which was inspired by the TV show of the same name and a reminder what a force LaPlante was in TV-land back then and how ground-breaking her work was!

Book review: Alibi by Lynda LaPlanteAlibi
by Lynda La Plante
Series: Trial and Retribution #2
Published by Zaffre
on 30/01/2024
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 1804182478
Pages: 400

Identical and brutal assaults on three women. One woman survives to give a detailed description of her attacker.

The police arrest a suspect, Damon Morton, confident he is their man. But three of his employees admit to the crimes, and Morton's wife and girlfriend provide him with an alibi.

They all declare Damon Morton innocent. The police know he did it. But if people lie under oath in a court of law - who can the jury believe?

The way this book is written or presented plays out a bit like a television show or script which makes sense given its genesis. It’s very procedural or episodic with scenes playing out, in a well-paced and orderly fashion. I actually quite enjoyed the structure as my mind is quite logic-loving. I tend to be a bit ADD in my thinking and all over the place, but I’m also ultimately methodical so this appeals as does the tight editing and storytelling.

Interestingly it’s all written in third person and we dip in and out of various characters’ points of view so – while we spend some time with a couple of police officers throughout – our view is kinda omnipresent.

We do briefly meet the first victim (however) which was quite powerful to me as I felt a little defensive of her and it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come in how we see and judge others (yay for the advent of political correctness or you know… just human decency!). She’s a beautician and massage therapist who goes a bit further on the side (to make ends meet) as well as a dedicated mother but becomes ‘the prostitute’ to the media AND the police, and her colleagues referenced as tarts and old slags.

I enjoyed the way this unfolds, the meticulous attention to the evidence, forensics and clues and the interrogation of witnesses, suspects and – of course – their alibis, before moving to the hearing. It occurs to me (now) that the show and books are very much antecedents to the Law & Order type TV shows, in which we follow BOTH the police investigation and (here anyway) the trial.

I have to say I do miss the a-ha moment that sometimes comes with thrillers along with some detail into the ‘why’ [psychopaths become psychopaths] but LaPlante throws a nice little twist in at the end, making this is a very satisfying read and a series with which I’m keen to reconnect.

Alibi by Lynda LaPlante will be published by Australia via Allen & Unwin and available in late January 2024.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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