Aloha Alibi by Jasmine Webb

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Aloha Alibi is a debut novel by Jasmine Webb and the first book in what is planned as a murder mystery series Charlotte Gibson Mysteries.

It’s a short, cozy, fast paced murder mystery set up in Hawaii.

I listened to the audio book version narrated by Khristine Hvam. For me narration was very good, not at all annoying or distracting.

Most people flee to Hawaii for gorgeous weather, white-sand beaches, and cocktails at sunset. Charlotte Gibson, however, is fleeing for her life after a vengeful mobster leaves a severed finger on her doorstep as a warning. Message very much received.

That’s how Charlotte—Charlie to everyone except her mom— finds herself on Maui with six dollars to her name, living with a mother who can’t stop giving her advice on how to land herself a husband. But when a businessman is murdered and his company offers a reward to whoever finds the killer, Charlie sees an opportunity: with that kind of cash, she could afford her own place and start a new life here away from the people who want her dead. After all, how hard can hunting down a murderer be?

Teaming up with a couple of old ladies with more spunk than Betty White, Charlie is sure she’s on the right track to snag the reward money. However, the infuriating-but-smoldering-hot cop trying to keep her away from his case has other ideas. Throw in a day job at an ice cream shop, corrupt local politicians, and a best friend trying to act as the voice of reason, and Charlie has her work cut out for her.

Will she be able to find the killer, or is Charlie’s time in paradise going to go straight to hell in a handbasket?

Goodreads synopsis

At first, I didn’t think I’ll like this book much but over time it grew on me. It suffers from some problems I’ve noticed in other debut novels, it is sometimes heavy with dialogues that can be little stiff or basic, in audio version it worked fine, almost like you are sitting by the characters while having a cup of coffee, but I’m not sure how it works in written text. Some transitions between scenes are awkward but nothing deal breaking.

I think that length of the novel, lighthearted approach and humor that was handled pretty well, definitely go in favor of the story and mitigate shortcomings of the book.

The characters are good, Charlie, Dot and Rosie have the most screentime, and I guess other such as Zoe and Jack will be further developed in the future.

The story has some troubles with structural points. There are scenes that lead to nothing story wise and are more episodic. Maybe they are setup for future books, but it would be better to focus more on the main plot and not to veer to future plans because “detective” work is rushed in places and characters just tumble into clues and solutions.

Examples, Mild Spoilers ahead:

For example, in the opening of the story Charlie kills a mob member and is therefore threatened with her life what leads to her coming back to Hawaii. Never again is this mentioned or has any influence on the story except as her “badge of honor”. Then we have a guy stalking her best friend, Zoe. He stalks her, she gets restraining order, he stalks her again, they beat the crap out of him, he ends up in jail and that’s it, the end, no connection to the plot.

There is a lot of attempted social commentary in the book such as police brutality, police failure to act, strong female characters, bribery of city councilmen and American patriotism. Which in itself is ok, but sometimes these episodic stories and are created solely for the purpose of conveying a message with no connection to the plot. And at times characters word them out so often it’s annoying. In one scene Charlie was unlawfully shocked with electric taser by the policemen. She mentions it every single time she sees Jack to the point it interrupts each natural conversation they are having. I believe this aspect of the story could have been handled better.

Overall, I’ll still give this book 3/5 stars, but it is a strong positive 3. I’m interested in how the writer will develop her writing style and what comes next for Charlie and her companions on the beautiful Hawaii.

Thank you NetGalley and Jasmine Webb for free copy of the book in exchange for honest review.

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