The Last Alibi (Jason Kolarich #4), by David Ellis

Eight stars

While my exploration of David Ellis’ series starring Jason Kolarich has come to an end, it surely did not wane with this fourth novel. A story in which Kolarich finds himself in the crosshairs of a killer is only made better when our protagonist is tied up in knots and left as the accused in a murder trial. After a series of highly troubling events that left Jason Kolarich addicted to pain medication, he tries to hide all this from those around him. However, he is caught up by a new courtroom stenographer, Alexa Himmel, with whom he is soon in a heated relationship. Kolarich is approached by a man who says that he might soon be framed for the murder of a woman and wants advice. A new challenge for Kolarich, but one he is happy to decipher for his hourly fee. It would seem that James Drinker feels that someone is out to pin a number of murders on him, leaving Kolarich to help him creat an alibi that will be useful should the authorities pay him a visit. However, with each subsequent visit by Drinker, Kolarich comes to feel that his client may be a serial killer who is using attorney-client privilege to all but confess. Ready to break all the rules and ensure Drinker is taken into custody, Kolarich violates the state bar’s ethics and points the police in his direction, all while distancing himself from his law firm and falling down the rabbit hole of addiction and a trust with Alexa. However, even Alexa has her limits and she soon creates a situation where Kolarich chooses to keep her at bay. Their rough patch is documented in texts, emails, and voicemail messages. When Alexa turns up dead in his apartment, Kolarich is sure Drinker is behind it, but has no concrete proof. This game of cat and mouse gets harder when Kolarich is put on trial for the murder, forcing his partner, Shauna Tasker, to show off her legal skills. Kolarich is fighting for his life, while the elusive James Drinker hides in the shadows and uses the legal advice he received to exact bloody revenge. Might Jason Kolarich finally have met his match? Ellis does a formidable job with this piece, which keeps the reader guessing in this multi time period narrative. Recommended to those who have loved the series, as well as the reader who needs a legal thriller of the highest caliber.

David Ellis is an author I should have discovered long ago. He keeps his story strong and his characters ever-evolving in a genre that is so crowded with writers these days. As the series reader will know, Jason Kolarich is an evolving character whose backstory and character development never takes a break with Ellis in the driver’s seat. From the loss of his family through to some of his less than stellar relationship choices, Kolarich has always been able to use his gritty work ethic to rise to the occasion. However, with this piece, the tables are turned and Kolarich must rely on others as his life hangs in the balance. While Shauna Tasker has been a secondary character throughout, she peeks through to get a stronger role in this novel, receiving her own narrative perspective. This gives the reader additional first-hand information about the protagonist and some backstory that might have been missed with Kolarich off-hand comments in past novels. The handful of other key characters help propel the story forward and keeps the reader full enthralled with the progress of all things related to the piece. Ellis does well with this story, painting the characters into some interesting corners before pushing out and weaving together perhaps the best story to date. There is no point in the book when there narrative wanes and the mix of chapter lengths works well to give the reader something they can thoroughly enjoy. While it seems David Ellis has moved to working in collaboration with a popular author, I would love to see more of this series or read other standalone work, as this was a wonderful treat for me to discover!

Kudos, Mr. Ellis, for a series that is surely binge-worthy. I will be back for more of your work as I can get my hands on it.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: