This is a follow-up to "Dark Horse" a surprisingly good private eye novel set in the world of horse-riding. Our main character is Elena Estes, a former narcotics cop now working as a groom, trying to forget the life she used to live (a screw-up resulted in the death of a workmate). While riding her horse, she comes across the dead body of Irina Markova, another groom and sort-of friend. Unable to shake off her cop instincts, Elena decides to do her own investigation, much to the delight/anger of detective James Landry, whom she recently just broke up with. Her plate soon gets very full. Notorious Russian gangster Alexi Kulov wants to get info from her. And her ex-fiance Bennett Walker becomes a prime suspect when it's revealed Irina went to an after-party with him and other rich guys, who call themselves "The Alibi Club", as they like to provide each other with an alibi whenever one of them does something naughty. Bennett and Elena's past is very rocky, since all those years ago he asked her to provide him with an alibi when he raped and beat another woman. Obviously, he looks good for this latest murder.
"The Alibi Man" is a solid crime thriller that holds attention. Good plot twists, edgy violence and a refreshing lack of romance cliches (Hoag used to be a category romance author, and that element could often overwhelm other novels). The main fault here is characterisation and dialogue. The latter is flat-out awful. The former leaves a lot to be desired. Basically, our main characters are really unpleasant! Det Landry is a hot-headed racist, and Elena is a flat-out bitch to everybody she meets. It was hard to understand why everybody found her "intriguing". If I found myself at the receiving end of her snotty attitude I'd tell her to f*** off and bury herself in a deep hole. I don't understand why the criteria for a "complex" character is to have them being world-weary, self-loathing and angry with the world. I'm sure there are plenty of complex people out there with wonderfully sunny dispositions. Why can't I spend 350 pages with one of them?