My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Elena Estes is working on a horse farm in Palm Beach polo country, recovering from psychic and physical injuries received during her final days as a cop. While exercising one of the ponies, she is horrified to discover the body of a co-worker submerged in a swampy canal, badly mauled by alligators. An experienced detective, Elena is not content to leave the investigation to her former department, even though it’s lead by the man with whom she recently ended an affair. The dead woman, Irina Markova, was a party girl, hooked up with a group of rich and powerful men who’ve formed the Alibi Club. They have no problems providing alibis for each other, no matter how degenerate the behavior. Irina was also entangled with Russian mob boss Alexi Kulik, who makes a threatening visit to Elena. Heartbroken over Irina’s murder, he charges Elena with finding the killer. Her estranged father, a wealthy criminal defense attorney, and her former fiance, one of the alibi men, further muddy the waters.
Alibi Man is based on a complicated plot with numerous characters, within which author Hoag expertly spins out the mystery and suspense, maintaining a level of control that avoids the confusion that so often occurs in similar books. She also provides an insider’s view of a world of privilege, power, and polo, one where justice does not always prevail. Her protagonist is a gutsy woman with no illusions but plenty of principle, and by the time the murderer is found, Elena has gained a valuable piece of self knowledge that may permit her to finally find the happiness she deserves.