Book: Blind Alley by Iris Johansen
In this mystery thriller readers meet Jane MacGuire, a seventeen year old who has never had an easy past. After years of living with a drug-abusing mother, living on the street, and being bounced from foster home to foster, Jane finally settles into the life she should have lived with forensic anthropologist Eve Duncan, and her detective husband, Joe. The family is used to having death in their home, as Eve’s primary job is to bring home the skulls of victims the police find and reconstruct their faces to find their identity. A strange thing happens, when the latest face Eve reconstructs looks just like Jane. We find out that a serial killer named Aldo is on the loose and tracking down women with Jane’s face. Enter Mark Trevor, a suspicious man who claims to be from Scotland Yard. He tries to join Joe on the case with information about Aldo’s activity in Europe. However, Trevor doesn’t act like a typical cop and Joe is instantly suspicious. As he should be, because Trevor turns out to be a con man trying to make his way onto the case for personal reasons. It turns out that he and Aldo know each other from working on an excavation site stealing artifacts back in Italy. In a tunnel in the ancient city of Herculaneum are said to be the remains, and the treasure, of a famous actress named Cira. Aldo’s father and Trevor were both obsessed with finding the remains, the treasure, and anything else related to Cira. This obsession in his father leads to the severe neglect of Aldo which ultimately drives him insane. After an accident in the tunnel leads to his father’s death, Aldo blames Cira and devotes his life to finding her and destroying her in every possible way. He thinks he finally has found her, reincarnated in the body of Jane. Young Jane, being the independent free-spirit that she is, refuses to allow anyone to threaten her or her family, and makes the decision to work with the con artist to take down this murderer once and for all. She is her own person, and refuses to be killed for a crime that neither she or Cira committed.
Throughout the story, Jane also has dreams (nightmares, really) of being trapped in the tunnel where Cira allegedly died. Together with these dreams, the information from Trevor, and Jane’s tenacity, they concoct a plan to use Jane as bait to catch Aldo once and for all. They travel back to Italy and lure Aldo into a tunnel where they will have the chance to have a final stand off.
There’s also a little romance segment. There’s high sexual tension between Trevor and Jane, because Jane thinks she’s an adult and can handle an older (28 year old) man. It’s awkward.
I picked up this book after reading one of the other novels in the Eve Duncan Forensic thriller books, where Jane was first introduced. I’ve been a long time fan of Iris Johansen’s writing, and I’ve been reading her books since I was in the sixth grade which is why I thought I’d read something of hers for this class. Blind Alley was a good read as it concerned a non-typical teenager and how her past shaped her reaction to this terrifying situation. It shows a lot of what it means to be independent. I would use discretion when recommending the book, though, as there are a lot of thematic elements, violence, and exploration with sexuality. Know your kids and students. But if they’re interested in flying by the seat of their pants and clinging onto every word, then I’d definitely recommend it. I had a great time with this novel for sure.
Beverage: Hot, long, and dark (Yeah, my men too.)
The tunnel Jane dreams about is hot, long, and dark, so I thought hey, let’s see what we can make. So where I would usually research a cocktail and try it out, this time I thought I’d mix my own. This one is just coke and Fireball in a champagne flute. (Long glass, dark coke, hot “fire.” Get it? Haha. Sorry, I know it’s a stretch.)
Honestly, not a lot to say about this drink. My proportions are 3 parts coke, 1 part Fireball. It was pretty strong, but I think the cinnamon flavor mixes really well with the Coke. It almost makes me think of Dr. Pepper.
It was alright.