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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reading Notes : Alibi by Sydney Bauer

I’m just over midway through the new legal thriller by Sydney Bauer titled Alibi (published by Pan Macmillan Australia), which is due to be released April, 2008, so I’ll give you a few of my thoughts and reactions to whet your appetites.

Bear in mind, I have reached a stage in the book where there are numerous possible suspects to choose from, a trial is about to begin that promises to be extremely fiery and an overseas human rights issue is building, so I’m pretty “into it” at the moment.

Firstly, Alibi is Sydney Bauer’s 3rd novel following Undertow and Gospel. All three books are legal thrillers featuring Boston attorney David Cavanaugh. Undertow recently took out the Davitt Award for Best Crime Novel by an Australian Woman in 2006.

Within the first couple of paragraphs of Alibi both Undertow and Gospel are summarised briefly to give those who have read the earlier books a brief refresher and those who haven’t, a short rundown of David Cavanaugh’s credentials.

All of the principal characters have returned in Alibi: Cavanaugh, of course; Sara Davis, his colleague and girlfriend; Lieutenant Joe Mannix; Detective Frank McKay. Also returning is Cavanaugh’s antagonist, the arrogant, smug, over-ambitious, easy-to-hate ADA Roger Katz. (Just finished a particularly enjoyable little confrontation between the two combatants, as a matter of fact).

Setting the Scene

Nineteen year old Deane University student Jessica Nagoshi has been strangled to death and left in the garden of her family home. She is the daughter of a billionaire Japanese businessman so the murder is very high profile and the despised Roger Katz is anxious to have someone arrested and convicted as quickly as possible – next year is an election year, after all.

The arrest is made and David Cavanaugh is on hand to represent a man he is sure is innocent.

As for possible guilty parties at least 3 are tossed into the mix, each of them are credible and each of them have jumped to the top of my suspect least at one stage or another.

My Own Impressions

Alibi has succeeded in hooking me, well and truly, with the prospect of an emotion-charged courtroom stoush if the offing. The lead up has been engrossing thanks to the vast array of scenarios that have been set up.

The first 150 pages had me in mind of the television show Law And Order with the police doing their bit tracking down suspects, interviewing witnesses and friends and putting together some sort of case to make an arrest. The only difference here is that even the police, who are supposed to be on the District Attorney’s side, hate Roger Katz. So you’ve got a situation in which antagonism and resentment pretty much rules the day.

As I said earlier, I haven’t finished the book, so I can’t exactly proclaim it the best that Sydney Bauer has written just yet, but it’s definitely heading that way. It moves as smoothly as anything John Grisham writes and is full of the kinds of hidden complexities that marks Scott Turow’s legal thrillers.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately you don't seem to be able to get Bauer's books in the UK. Well, I've just checked Undertow on Amazon UK and there is one copy available from an Australian seller, at £24 something -- pity.

Unknown said...

hey maxine,
i had the same problem with an earlier bauer book but ending up buying from - had to pay postage of course, but it wasn't unreasonable...

Damien said...

Hi Maxine,

As Nina suggests, I would think buying the book(s) directly from Australia would be a very realistic option, given the favourable exchange rate for you guys.

As an example Abbeys Bookshop is selling Undertow for AUD19.95. Not bad in GBP.