Alibi Man

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She was a vision. She was a siren. She was a nightmare. She was dead. Now he needed her to disappear. And he knew just how to make it happen. The Palm Beach elite go to great lengths to protect their own-and their own no longer includes Elena Estes. Once upon a time a child of wealth and privilege, Elena turned her back on that life. Betrayed and disillusioned by those closest to her, she chose the life of an undercover cop, the hunt for justice her own personal passion. Then a tragic, haunting mistake ended her ...
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Alibi Man

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Overview

She was a vision. She was a siren. She was a nightmare. She was dead. Now he needed her to disappear. And he knew just how to make it happen. The Palm Beach elite go to great lengths to protect their own-and their own no longer includes Elena Estes. Once upon a time a child of wealth and privilege, Elena turned her back on that life. Betrayed and disillusioned by those closest to her, she chose the life of an undercover cop, the hunt for justice her own personal passion. Then a tragic, haunting mistake ended her career. Now Elena exists on the fringes of her old life, training horses for a living. But a shocking event is about to draw her back into the painful vortex she's fought so hard to leave behind.
First she finds the body-a young woman used, murdered, and dumped in a canal. Not just a victim, but a friend. As Elena delves into her dead friend's secret life, she discovers ties not only to the Russian mob but also to a group of powerful and wealthy Palm Beach bad boys known for giving each other alibis to cover a multitude of sins. A group that includes a man Elena once knew very well-her former fiancé, Bennett Walker, a man she knows has already escaped justice at least once in his life.
Finding her friend's killer will put Elena at odds with her old life, with her new lover, and with herself. But she is determined to reveal the truth-a truth that will shock Palm Beach society to its core, and could very well get her killed.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Years ago, Elena Estes lived a life of wealth and privilege, moving freely among the big spenders of the Palm Beach elite. Disillusioned, she left high society to become an undercover cop, but after several years, that heartfelt pursuit ended because of a tragic mistake. In her new career as a horse trainer, Elena hopes that the pain and brutal excitement of her past is over. But when she discovers the corpse of a friend, her natural grief is mixed with the grim realization that she must return to all the dark places of her life. Spine-tingling suspense with a personal twist.
Kevin Allman
The plot itself is as slick as a John Grisham movie treatment, but Estes is a capable docent on Hoag's tour of ritzy Palm Beach, as the author explores the gulf between the area's gazillionaires and the polyglot world of maids, stablehands, valets and bartenders who keep la vita so very dolce for the horsy set.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Last seen in bestseller Hoag's Dark Horse, Elena Estes, a former undercover cop turned PI, is devastated at the start of this captivating thriller when she realizes a body she finds in a south Florida canal is that of her friend Irina Markova, a beautiful groom with whom she once worked at a horse stable. Assisted by ex-lover Det. James Landry, the tough-as-nails Elena immerses herself in Irina's murder investigation. One of the suspects happens to be Bennett Walker, the ex-fiance Elena hasn't seen in 20 years, who was previously tried and acquitted of rape and attempted murder despite her testimony against him. The suspense builds when Elena learns that Bennett is a member of the Alibi Club, a group of wealthy Palm Beach "bad boys" who cover for each other when trouble befalls them. Elena believes she can trust no one, especially after Russian mobster Alexi Kulak insists that Elena help him unearth Irina's killer. Elena, who eschewed her elitist Palm Beach family to preserve her integrity, is a heroine readers will want to see more of. (Mar. 27) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Former narcotics detective Elena Estes just wants to be left alone, but when a colleague is murdered, her hunt for the killer leads her straight back to the smarmy Palm Beach crowd she abandoned long ago. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A superbly taut thriller…. Hoag conducts a whirlwind tour of the high-flying world of the superrich and its tawdry underbelly that will leave readers breathless and satisfied."—Booklist

“A heroine readers will want to see more of.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553802016
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/27/2007
  • Series: Elena Estes Series , #2
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag's novels have appeared regularly on national bestseller lists since the publication of her first book in 1988. She lives in Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

SHE FLOATED on the face of the pool like an exotic water lily. Her hair fanned out around her head, undulating, a silken lily pad to drift on. The sheer layers of fabric that made up her dress skimmed the surface, backlit by the pool lights, purple and fuchsia, the shimmering skin of a rare sea creature that came out only at night in the depths along a coral reef.

She was a vision, a mythical goddess dancing on the water, her slender arms stretched wide to beckon him.

She was a siren, tempting him closer and closer to the water. Her blue eyes stared at him, her full, sensuous lips parted slightly, inviting his kiss.

He had tasted her kiss. He had held her close, felt the heat of her skin against his.

She was a dream.

She was a nightmare.

She was dead.

He opened his cell phone and punched in a number. The phone on the other end rang . . . and rang . . . and rang. Then a gruff and groggy voice answered.

“What the hell?”

“I need an alibi.”

Chapter Two


I AM NOT a cop. I am not a private investigator, despite all rumors to the contrary. I ride horses for a living but don’t make a nickel doing it. I am an outcast from my chosen profession and I don’t want another.

Unfortunately, our fates have little to do with what we want or don’t want. I know that all too well.

That February morning I walked out of the guest cottage I had called home for the past year, just as the sun was beginning to break. The eastern horizon was color-saturated in stripes of hot orange, hot pink, and bright yellow. I like that hour before most of the world wakes. The world seems still and silent, and I feel like I’m the only person in it.

The broad-leaved St. Augustine grass was heavy with dew, and thin layers of fog hovered over the fields, waiting for the Florida sun to vaporize them. The smell of green plants, dirty canal water, and horses hung in the air, a pungent organic perfume.

It was Monday, which meant I had the peace and quiet of absolute privacy. My old friend and savior Sean Avadon, who owned the small horse farm on the outskirts of Wellington, had taken his latest amour to South Beach, where they would oil themselves and roast in the sun with a few thousand other beautiful people. Irina, our groom, had the day off.

All my life I have preferred the company of horses to people. Horses are honest, straightforward creatures without guile or ulterior motive. You always know where you stand with a horse. In my experience, I can’t say the same for human beings.

I went about the morning routine of feeding the eight beautiful creatures that lived in Sean’s barn. All of them had been imported from Europe, each costing more than the average middle-class American family home. The stable had been designed by a renowned Palm Beach architect in the Caribbean plantation style. The high ceiling was lined with teak, and huge art deco chandeliers salvaged from a Miami hotel hung above the center aisle.

That morning I didn’t settle in with my usual first cup of coffee to listen to the soft sounds of the horses eating. I hadn’t slept well–not that I ever did. Worse than usual, I should say. Twenty minutes here, ten minutes there. The argument had played over and over in my mind, banging off the walls of my skull and leaving me with a dull, throbbing headache.

I was selfish. I was a coward. I was a bitch.

Some of it was true. Maybe all of it. I didn’t care. I had never pretended to be anything other than what I was. I had never pretended I wanted to change.

More upsetting to me than the argument itself was the fact that it was haunting me. I didn’t want that. All I wanted to do was get away from it.

I had lost time thinking about it. The horses had finished their breakfast and were on to other things–hanging their heads out their windows or over their stall doors. One had grabbed a thick cotton lead rope left hanging beside his door and was swinging it by his teeth around and around his head like a trick roper, amusing himself.

“All right, Arli,” I muttered. “You’re it.”

I pulled the big gray gelding out of his stall, saddled him, and rode off the property.

The development where Sean’s farm was located was called Palm Beach Point–which was neither a point nor anywhere near Palm Beach. All horse properties, it was common to see riders on or along the road or on the sandy trails that ran along the canals. Polo ponies were often jogged along the road three and four abreast on either side of an exercise rider. But it was Monday, the one day in seven most horse people take off.

I was alone, and the horse beneath me didn’t like it. Clearly I was up to no good–or so he thought. He was a nervous sort, highstrung, and spooky on the trail. I had chosen him specifically for that reason. My attention couldn’t wander on this one or I would find myself in the air, then on the ground, then walking home. Nothing could be in my head except his every step, every twitch of an ear, every tensing of a muscle.

The trail ran straight with the road on my right and a dark, dirty, narrow canal on my left. I sat, bumped the gelding with a leg, and he jumped into a canter, pulling against the reins, wanting to run. A small group of white ibis browsing along the bank startled and took wing. Arli bolted at the explosion of bright white feathers, leaped in the air, squealed, bucked, and took off, his long legs reaching for as much ground as he could cover.

A saner person would have been choking on terror, hauling back on the reins, praying to survive. I let the horse run out of control. Adrenaline rushed through my veins like a narcotic.

He ran as if hell was closing in behind us. I stuck to him like a tick, sitting low over my center of gravity. Ahead, the road made a hard turn right.

I didn’t touch the reins. Arli ran straight, leaving the road, staying with the canal. Without hesitation, he bounded across a small ditch and kept running, past the dead end of another dirt road.

He could have broken a leg, fallen on me, thrown me, paralyzed me. He could have stumbled hard enough to unseat me and dragged me by one foot caught in the stirrup. But it wasn’t the horse that frightened me, or the potential for injury or death. What frightened me was the excitement I felt, my euphoric disregard for my own life.

It was that feeling that finally made me wrestle for control–of the horse and of myself. He came back to me a little at a time, from a dead run to a gallop to a canter to a huge prancing trot. When he finally came more or less to a halt, his head was up in the air, and he blew loudly through flared nostrils. Steam rose from his body and mine, both of us drenched in sweat. My heart was racing. I pressed a trembling hand against his neck. He snorted, shook his head, jumped sideways.

I didn’t know how far we had run. The fields were long behind us. Woods stood on both sides of the dirt road. Tall, spindly pine trees thrust themselves toward the sky like spears. Dense scrub choked the far bank of the canal.

Arli danced beneath me, nervous, skittish, ready to bolt. He ducked his big head and tried to tug the reins out of my hands. I could feel his muscles quivering beneath me, and it dawned on me that this was not excitement he was feeling. This was fear.

He snorted again and shook his head violently. I scanned the banks of the canal, the edge of the woods on either side. Wild boar roamed through this scrub. Wild dogs–pit bulls set loose by rednecks who had beat them into meanness, then didn’t want them around. People had reported sighting the occasional panther in the area. Rumors always abounded that something or another had escaped from Lion Country Safari. Alligators hunted in the canals. My body tensed before I could even process what caught my eye. A human arm reached up out of the black water of the canal, as if stretching out for help that was far too late in coming. Something–a bobcat, perhaps, or a very ambitious fox–had tried to pull the arm out of the water, but not for any benevolent reason. The hand and wrist had been mangled, the flesh torn, some bone exposed. Black flies hovered and crawled over the limb like a living lacy glove.

There were no obvious tire tracks leading over the bank and into the water. That happened all the time–too much to drink, asleep at the wheel, no common sense. People plunged to their deaths in South Florida’s canals every day of the week, it seemed. But there was no sign of a car here.

I took a hard grip on the reins with one hand, pulled my cell phone from my belt with the other, and punched in a number. The phone on the other end of the line rang twice.

“Landry.” The voice was curt.

“You’re going to want to come out here,” I said.

“Why? So you can kick me in the teeth again?”

“I’ve found a body,” I said without emotion. “An arm, to be precise. Come, don’t come. Do what you want.”

I snapped the phone shut, ignored it when it rang, and turned my horse for home.

This was going to be one hell of a day.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2008

    only ok

    I liked ella but its as if she havent grown. She almost seems worst off than when we first met her in the first book. I felt sorry for Laundry to the point where i almost didnt want them together. But hope Ms. Hoag will give us another story of ella and laundry and wrap things up for ella. MAybe one where she finally deals with her relationship with her parents, or where she can find some peace. Good suspence but no satisfaction to the reader.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Caution-

    I enjoyed the storyline of this book. However, the language is rife with swearing that is truly unnecessary, in my opinion. The story holds up fine without all that. So, I caution anyone who doesn't care for "language" to avoid this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome

    This was the first time I read her books I really liked it. It keeps you hooked. Very good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010

    Hoag fans will love it! - review by Patti Phillips

    Bestselling suspense author, Tami Hoag, began her professional writing career in the romance genre, but stretched that framework to include everything from comedy to suspense. Her strong female characters were savvy, contemporary types and readers connected. As more of Hoag's work shifted into the thriller/suspense realm, it reflected the rising audience interest in forensics and began to include more of the graphic details of the crime scenes and the violence visited upon the victims. Today, her bad guys are darker, more depraved, and her heroines more likely to engage in the kind of retribution that would raise the eyebrows of the faint-hearted. "Alibi Man" returns former undercover cop, Elena Estes, to the hard, fast world of Palm Beach society and the nasty secrets lying beneath the surface. When a fellow horse groom and marginal friend is found murdered, Elena is drawn back into the life she'd like to forget and must deal with buried emotions she thought she had hidden from the world. Elena is grippingly portrayed as a deeply tortured soul, and we feel her pain as her personal life is laid before us chapter, by aching chapter. The action in "Alibi Man" is fast-paced, filling the pages with cold-blooded crime figures snipping off body parts, drug/sex parties, handsome polo stars and a cop boyfriend. The plot weaving the colorful characters together is less successful, only because I don't quite buy that the rich and powerful would be dumb enough to get themselves into such stupid personal messes. One at a time, yes, but collectively? However, the name of the book may tell it all. Supreme arrogance probably dictates the need for an Alibi Man. Rated R for graphic language and very adult situations

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    spellbinding

    A good read to pass the time quickly. As this was an audio book, the miles fly by as we listen to this story. Never stagnant or boring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    GREAT READ, FAST PACED, HOLDS YOUR ATTENTION FROM THE START...

    Enjoyed this story. Setting was 'realistic', ... as a former female 'Law Enforcement officer', the activity and storyline keeps you thinking you 'are' really 'investigating a 'crime'; the community and basic story line depicted makes this an exciting, thrilling and believable read.

    Tami is wonderful writer; great at drawing her readers in, and holding your attention from start to finish. I have read both THRILLER NOVELS and ROMANTIC NOVELS.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    A Real Page Turner

    Once again, Tami does NOT disappoint. The book is an easy read that keeps you turning the pages until the surprise ending. Tami Hoag is a 'must read'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Elena

    This story about Elena Estes was so good and I cant wait for the next book regarding her life. This kept me up at night and couldnt stop reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2008

    Rich guys kill and alibi for each other

    A thoroughly suspenseful story that was very hard to leave. I have read all of Tami Hoag¿s books and this might be the best. A group of rich men think they have devised a way to cover themselves from guilt by lying and giving alibi¿s for each other when one of them is in trouble. It works great for them as long as they all stay together when they give their alibi¿s for each other, but will they be able to continue to do just that? Elena Estes used to be a cop but she decided that she liked the company of horses much more than those she had to confront as a cop. A good friend of hers, Sean Avadon, owned a horse farm and Elena had gone to work for him after her time as a cop. Elena loved to ride horses, enjoying the freedom one gets while roaming the peaceful countryside. But when she finds the body of a woman in a canal during one of her rides, her enjoyable ride turned nasty all at once. An alligator and some of the many flesh eaters in a Florida canal were enjoying the body. Elena phoned her old police friend, James Landry, and he started the cops rolling to the remote area. The victim turned out to be Irina Markova, a co-worker of Elena¿s at the horse farm. Elena being an ex-cop was told by Landry not to start investigating on her own since she was no longer a cop. But Landry knew Elena would not listen and would delve into the case secretly, especially since she knew the victim fairly well. In the area was a famous polo club, the International Polo Club, where the rich loved to play. One of the rich star polo players was Juan Barbaro, a handsome man that loved good looking and rich women and while Elena was not rich, she was good looking. Barbaro was a member of the Alibi Club as was Elena¿s former fiancé. Bennett Walker. Elena hated Walker¿s guts and couldn¿t stand being around him and she knew in her mind that with all the bad things he had done when she was associated with him, he could have had something to do in the murder. Barbaro wanted Elena and she wasn¿t too unhappy being with him except for his alibi connection. When Elena is contacted in a far too menacingly way by a member of the Russian mob, Alexi Kulak, she got scared and knew there was much more to this murder along with the murder of another girl that showed up dead in the area. Now it appears to be a possible prostitution ring connecting the Russian mob and the Alibi Club rich guys. If all of the above doesn¿t spark your desire to read this book nothing will. Tami Hoag has written a non-stop action thriller that connects many facets of Palm Beach, Florida rich polo life, and Russian mobs with the police interaction keeping Elena in the action all the way. Though scared she was not one to quit when her friends were involved. A MUST read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    A Mesmerizing page turner... from classy mystery author Tami Hoag...

    In her acknowledgment, with class and grace Tami Hoag salutes those who assist in making a bestseller: 'My job [on a book]--which is conception, gestation, and birth--is only the beginning. There is a large extended family that sees me through my process, ¿from there¿ turns the daydreams and nightmares of my imagination into the book [you will hold in your hands] -- 'The Alibi Man'. As in Hoag's breathtaking 'Dark Horse' (one of my all-time favorites as an avid reader and reviewer), Elena Estes is back in another spine-tingling tale of a former undercover cop, murder, power, and interfering elements in Elena's past. The tingling begins with a ringing phone and a voice 'She was a dream¿ a siren¿ a vision, a mythical goddess¿ . She was a nightmare. She was dead.' And the voice placing the phone call says urgently: 'I need an alibi.' Elena rides Arli, always preferring the company of horses vs. humans, just as the 'sun was beginning to break', in layers of fog, where alligators waited¿ she sees first an arm reaching out of the black water¿ hair floating above the water. The victim is someone she recognizes¿ Irina Markova, whom she worked with at Sean's stables. Turns and twists lead to the 'Alibi Club', the Russian mafia, Elena's re-encounters with an ex-lover¿ Read it! You can't miss with a Tami Hoag novel!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    Good Book

    I have read a lot of Tami Hoag novels, and this one was right up there. It's definitely original and diverse, including settings from a horse groomer all the way to the Palm Beach's glam society, and everything in between including graphic gore scenes, one of the things I like about Tami Hoag 'not afraid to tell it like it is!' The ending was not all the surprising, I kind of had it figured out about half-way through the book 'whodunnit.' Ms. Hoag is very good at creating sick and twisted characters. A good book overall.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    A Little Gruesome in Spots

    I really enjoyed the novel, although it was a little gruesome in a couple spots. I liked the strong lead character, Elena, and thought the plot was interesting. It was the first of Tami Hoag's that I have read, and I will definitely try some others of hers now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    Needs More Than an Alibi

    Tami Hoag has always been an excellent read but lately her women characters seem to have a chip on their shoulders. She writes them as smarter, stronger, and very sarcastic toward the male characters. I liked Elena, but she was just so testy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2007

    The Rich, the Privileged, the Murderous

    Once again Tami Hoag takes us into the world of Palm Beach with its polo clubs, priceless horses, and unscrupulous rich. Fans of Dark Horse will be rewarded with the return of Elena Estes, rich girl turned police detective turned horse trainer. Never at a loss for the snappy comeback, Elena trades insults with snooty upper crust power players who are trying to cover up a nasty crime. Add to the mix a vicious Russian mob boss determined to get revenge for the murder of his beautiful young lover. This is a powerhouse murder mystery with great dialogue, characters, and plot. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2007

    Good, fast read.

    This was my first Tami Hoag book, and I was immediately drawn into the story from the very first line. Great story, but I only gave it four stars...the ending wasn't as climactic as I had hoped and the twists were good but only a little surprising.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2007

    loved it

    I read this in less than a week...I couldn't put it down. Tami is known for romance but this book doesn't have any so sometimes it is a nice break...I love Tami Hoag books and have my mom hooked on them too!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2007

    Alibi Man needs an alibi

    Tami Hoag never disappoints her readers...until now. This book has a great story line and all the twist and turns we've come to expect in a Hoag book, but it doesn't deliver. The climax of the story is stunted and the ending is unsatisfying.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2007

    This is not a romance book

    I was very disappointed in this book. I love all the other books that Ms Hoag has written. There is no romance along with the intrigue. I specially liked Still Waters. I may have to read it again to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth that Alibi Man Left.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    This book delivers

    I had been looking forward to this book for a long time. I enjoyed Elena Estes in Dark Horse and was looking forward to getting reacquainted with her character. In Alibi Man I enjoyed the fast pace, the insights into the world of the wealthy, and the very well written characters. The plot twists were well done and I loved the surprises that came to the reader towards the end. It was interesting to see insights into Elena's past, and how her struggles in past relationships have molded Elena into someone who can be cynical and doesn't trust easily. As in the first book, the reader gets a glimpse of the softer side of Elena who will stop at nothing to get to the truth for people that she cares about. I also appreciated the struggles in her relationship with Detective Landry. During their struggles, they both learned a lot about each other's character. I would love for Tami Hoag to continue with this character and give us more books about Elena. Well done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2007

    Builds Momentum

    Alibi Man begins with the startling discovery of a body in the swamps of Southern Florida and continues at breakneck speed through the luxurious horse farms and exclusive polo clubs of Palm Beach in search of the killer. Once again, Tami Hoag uses her knowledge of horses and her quirky, multi-dimensional characters to provide more than just your typical murder mystery. As we follow the rebellious ex-PI, Elena Estes, through a maze of viable suspects, we are pulled into her struggle to let go of the past that haunts her¡Xthe ex-fiance who betrayed her and the wealthy parents who abandoned her. With a careful balance of intrigue and sentiment this book explores big topics of trust, loyalty, and equal justice wrapped in a fast-paced adventure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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