Friday, August 13, 2010

Mr. Alibi by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine's September/October issue, Kristine Kathryn Rusch serves up a funny and charming story in Mr. Alibi. It opens with down-on-her-luck private eye Belinda Sweet waiting at a bar for a client who never arrives. A schlubby guy parked at the end of the bar, Stanley Donen, asks her if she could be "his alibi," which at first she thinks is a pickup line. She soon realizes it wasn't when he casually confesses to killing his wife. But the police quickly clear Donen when they find out his wife is still alive and that he was "just playing a prank."

Sweet smells something funny about this whole situation and goes on a quest to find out who Stanley Donen really is. Sweet proves to be a tough, shrewd, likable, ethical character, offering a sharp contrast to the seediness of Los Angeles and all the scumbags she encounters in her investigation.  

Rusch has a gift for humorous observation and witty dialogue--how Donen initially confesses to the murder is hilarious. The plot is creative and unusual, with plenty of fun twists and turns. I've only checked out a few stories of Rusch's, but each one has left me wanting more.

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