Sunday, January 10, 2021

Wrong Alibi

Wrong Alibi
  Wrong Alibi
Author:  Christina Dodd
Publication Information:  HQN. 2020. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1335549595 / 978-1335549594

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review for the Fall 2020 mystery/thriller blog tour from Harlequin Trade Publishing

Opening Sentence:  "January."

Favorite Quote:  "Evie should have been used to the animosity. But How did someone grow indifferent to hatred?"

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Petie describes herself as "TSTL ... Too Stupid to Live." She works at Midnight Sun Fishing Camp Katchabiggie Lodge, a remote, secluded fishing camp and lodge near Denali in Alaska. She volunteers to be the sole person to spend the winter as the camp's caretaker. Why?

She hides. From her past. From her family, not that her family is looking for her. From anyone who knew her. From the law. For all legal purposes, it is as if Petie does not exist. Why?

At one point in her life, when she was still relatively speaking a child, she trusted the wrong person. Her naïveté led her to choices that, as a reader, I can see were clearly the wrong ones. It is interesting to see her past and to see so clearly that she is trusting the wrong person. Yet, she does.

A crime happens, and the alibi she thinks she has is clearly the wrong one.

This history clearly establishes her as a sympathetic character for this child never gets the support to learn the lessons that might have protected her from these choices. When she sees a welcome and a trust, she takes it at face value, never questioning the intent. It's not entirely realistic given the challenging childhood she has had. At the same time, given her youth, it is believable.

Fast forward to the present. It appears that her past is about to catch up with her. Perhaps, it's that she is about to seek a reckoning with that past. She has done a lot of growing up, and she is not quite as naive as she used to be. Action and adventure ensures, leading up to a dramatic ending.

Much of the ending - really, all but one piece - is not a surprise. The "how" of it and the journey to it makes for a fast-paced, quick read. The one surprise at the end is an added bonus.

Two things don't quite ring true in this book. The first is the family dynamic. It's hard to explain without a spoiler, but the dynamic seems to swing between extremes without much explanation from one to the other. The "why" is never truly discussed or resolved.

The second is the romance and the speed with which it occurs. I can understand what draws these individuals together. However, the main character has learned not to trust people and has spent most of her adult life avoiding interactions and connections. For this romance to proceed from meeting to a physical relationship almost instantly does not flow with the rest of the characterizations.

That being said, if I suspend disbelief, the book becomes a quickly read, fun race to find the villain in a beautiful Alaskan setting. There are subplots to figure out and characters to link together. My understanding is that this book is the beginning of a new Alaskan mystery series by the author. It will be interesting to see which of the characters pop up in other books.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at

Book Summary

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

Evie's escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family.


Excerpted from Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd Copyright © Christina Dodd. Published by HQN Books.

Chapter 1

Midnight Sun Fishing Camp
Katchabiggie Lodge
Eight years ago

    Five and a half hours a day when the sun rose above the horizon.
    Storm clouds so thick, daylight never penetrated, and night reigned eternal.
    Thirty below zero Fahrenheit.
    The hurricane-force wind wrapped frigid temperatures around the lodge, driving through the log cabin construction and the steel roof, ignoring the insulation, creeping inch by inch into the Great Room where twenty-year-old Petie huddled on a love seat, dressed in a former guest’s flannel pajamas and bundled in a Pendleton Northern Lights wool blanket. A wind like this pushed snow through the roof vents, and she knew as soon as the storm stopped, she’d be up in the attic shoveling it out.
    Or not. Maybe first the ceiling would fall in on top of her.
    Who would know? Who would care?
    The storm of the century, online news called it, before the internet disappeared in a blast that blew out the cable like a candle.
    For a second long, dark winter, she was the only living being tending the Midnight Sun cabins and the lodge, making sure the dark, relentless Alaska winter didn’t do too much damage and in the spring the camp could open to enthusiastic fishermen, corporate team builders and rugged individualists.
    Alone for eight months of the year. No Christmas. No New Year’s. No Valentine’s Day. No any day, nothing interesting, just dark dark dark isolation and fear that she would die out here.
    With the internet gone, she waited for the next inevitable event.
    The lights went out.
    On each of the four walls, a small, battery-charged nightlight came on to battle feebly against the darkness. Outside, the storm roared. Inside, cold swallowed the heat with greedy appetite.
    Petie sat and stared into a dark so black it hurt her eyes. And remembered…
    There, against the far back wall of the basement, in the darkest corner, white plastic covered…something. Slowly, Petie approached, driven by a terrible fear. She stopped about three feet away, leaned forward and reached out, far out, to grasp the corner of the plastic, pull it back, and see—
    With a gasp, Petie leaped to her feet.
    No. Just no. She couldn’t—wouldn’t—replay those memories again.
    She tossed the blanket onto the floor and groped for the flashlights on the table beside her: the big metal one with a hefty weight and the smaller plastic headlamp she could strap to her forehead. She clicked on the big one and shone it around the lodge, reassuring herself no one and nothing was here. No ghosts, no zombies, no cruel people making ruthless judgments about the gullible young woman she had been.
    Armed with both lights, she moved purposefully out of the Great Room, through the massive kitchen and toward the utility room.
    The door between the kitchen and the utility room was insulated, the first barrier between the lodge and the bitter, rattling winds. She opened that door, took a breath of the even chillier air, stepped into the utility room and shut herself in. There she donned socks, boots, ski pants, an insulated shirt, a cold-weather blanket cut with arm holes, a knit hat and an ancient, full-length, seal-skin, Aleut-made coat with a hood. She checked the outside temperature.
    Colder now—forty below and with the wind howling, the wind chill would be sixty below, seventy below…who knew? Who cared? Exposed skin froze in extreme cold and add the wind chill… She wrapped a scarf around her face and the back of her neck. Then unwrapped it to secure the headlamp low on her forehead. Then wrapped herself up again, trying to cover as much skin as she could before she faced the punishing weather.
    She pointed her big flashlight at the generator checklist posted on the wall and read:
    Hawley’s reasons why the generator will fail to start. The generator is new and well-tested, so the problem is:

Solution: Tighten.

Solution: Use metal terminal battery brush to clean connections and reattach.

Solution: Change battery in the autumn to avoid ever having to change it in the middle of a major fucking winter storm.

    If she wasn’t standing there alone in the dark in the bitter cold, she would have grinned. The owner of the fishing camp, Hawley Foggo, taught his employees Hawley’s Rules. He had them for every occurrence of the fishing camp, and that last sounded exactly like him.
    The generator used a car battery, and as instructed, in the autumn she had changed it. This was her second year dealing with the battery, and she felt secure about her work.
    So probably this failure was a loose connection or corrosion. Either way, she could fix it and save the lodge from turning into a solid ice cube that wouldn’t thaw until spring.
    That was, after all, her job.
    She shivered.
    So much better than her last job, the one that led to her conviction for a gruesome double murder.
    “Okay, Petie, let’s grab that metal battery cleaner thingy and get the job done.” Which sounded pretty easy, when she talked to herself about it, but when she pulled on the insulated ski gloves, they limited her dexterity.
    Out of the corner of her eye, a light blinked out.
    She looked back into the lodge’s Great Room. The nightlights were failing, and soon she really would be alone in the absolute darkness, facing the memories of that long-ago day in the basement.
    Good incentive to hurry.
    She grabbed the wire battery connection cleaner thingy and moved to the outer door.
    There she paused and pictured the outdoor layout.
    A loosely built lean-to protected the generator from the worst of the weather while allowing the exhaust to escape. That meant she wasn’t stepping out into the full force of the storm; she would be as protected as the generator itself. Which was apparently not well enough since the damned thing wasn’t working.
    She gathered her fortitude and eased the outer door open.
    The wind caught it, yanked it wide and dragged her outside and down the steps. She hung on to the door handle, flailed around on the frozen ground, and when she regained her footing, she used all her strength to shove the door closed again.
    Then she was alone, outside, in a killer storm, in the massive, bleak wilderness that was Alaska.

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TWITTER: @ChristinaDodd
Insta: @ChristinaDoddBooks

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