The Last Alibi
A Jason Kolarich Mystery by David Ellis
Review: Defense attorney Jason Kolarich is the defendant himself when he's on trial for the murder of his girlfriend in The Last Alibi, the fourth mystery in this series by David Ellis.
The body of court reporter Alexa Himmel was found shot to death in Jason's apartment. The two had been romantically involved for several months, much to the chargin of Jason's law partner Shauna Tasker, who believes she's enabling him with his addiction to the pain killer OxyContin. Even though Jason's gun was used in the crime, wiped clean of prints, and she had no key to enter his locked apartment, he claims he wasn't even home at the time but can't account for his whereabouts. The case seems open and shut to the prosecution, but Jason has an alternative suspect for them to consider: a man who hired Jason to defend him as he feared being named the prime suspect in the notorious North Side serial killings, a man that Jason — and even the police — cannot locate.
The storyline in The Last Alibi unfolds in a non-linear manner, being told in both the present (basically Jason's trial) and the several months leading up to Alexa's murder. There is quite a bit of non-essential filler here, especially in the early going, but it's generally interesting filler. While this narrative structure is handled nicely, what doesn't quite work as well is what happens when as told from both Jason and Shauna's first person perspective, who alternate their stories in a random manner. Unless one is rigorous about checking out the chapter heading, it often takes a page or two to figure out who is talking. That Jason's voice and Shauna's are so similar is a little confusing, most especially in the courtroom scenes where, since both are lawyers, their comments on the case almost seem interchangeable.
But these are really minor quibbles. The strength of The Last Alibi lies in its superior, and really quite intricate and meticulous, plotting. This is a whodunit — Jason may very well be guilty of the crime; he tells the reader he's lying but one is never quite sure what he's lying about — and howdunit — the crime is structured as a locked room mystery — but more importantly one's attention is drawn to how Jason is going to leave the courtroom a free man, something that right up to the very end seems to be an impossible task. This strongly written twisty legal thriller is highly recommended.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of The Last Alibi for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Hidden Man
Putnam (Hardcover), September 2009
ISBN-13: 9780399155796; ISBN-10: 0399155791
Location(s) referenced in The Last Alibi: Chicago, Illinois
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The Last Alibi by David Ellis — A Jason Kolarich Mystery
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $25.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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