Pea­cock’s Al­ibi

Stu­art David

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - JEFF FLEISCHER

Bir­linn (JUNE) Soft­cover $12.99 (224pp) 978-1-84697-411-3

Stu­art David’s char­ac­ter Pea­cock John­son has already been through a bit, ap­pear­ing in an ear­lier David novel and an ac­tual Ian Rankin crime novel (it’s a long story). Now he’s back in Pea­cock’s Al­ibi, a fun ca­per high­lighted by the main char­ac­ter’s col­or­ful nar­ra­tion.

David (best known as co-founder of the in­no­va­tive band Belle and Se­bas­tian) writes with a mem­o­rable voice, and his Pea­cock John­son is a fully re­al­ized small-time op­er­a­tor—a thief who knows his way around the scene and is fo­cused on the one big idea that will change his life.

In this case, an ac­quain­tance has promised to front the money for a fin­ger­print-shav­ing tech­nol­ogy, but only once said ac­quain­tance’s ex-wife is newly mar­ried, free­ing him from al­imony pay­ments. That ex-wife is best friends with Pea­cock’s own spouse, and in the course of the story he learns in­for­ma­tion that leaves him torn over whether that wed­ding should go for­ward. At the same time, lo­cal De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Mc­fad­gen is ob­sessed with send­ing Pea­cock to prison over the mur­der of a lo­cal in­for­mant, and is con­vinced his al­ibi for the night in ques­tion is a lit­tle too air­tight.

Through­out the book, Pea­cock needs to jug­gle con­ver­sa­tions with his dogged pur­suer, his belit­tling mother-in-law, his nar­cis­sis­tic wife, the an­noyed know-it-all of the lo­cal crime scene, and var­i­ous fel­low ne’er do wells—all while try­ing to clear his name, fig­ure out who com­mit­ted the mur­der, and de­ter­mine what to do about the pend­ing nup­tials. That’s a lot of ground to cover in a short novel, and cre­ates an en­joy­ably fran­tic at­mos­phere through­out.

Pea­cock’s small world feels lived in, and there’s a clever in-joke in the way other char­ac­ters re­act to his ex­ploits in the Rankin novel, which he in­sists weren’t real. Pea­cock’s Al­ibi is an en­joy­able en­try in a se­ries that we hope will con­tinue.

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