Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Blind Alley" by Iris Johansen

I was actually reading this at the same time I was reading Kellerman's book. I don't normally do that, and it was interesting to note the very different styles the two authors have. Kellerman wrote lush descriptions of the world her characters inhabited. Johansen tells her story almost entirely in dialogue and in the heads of her characters.

"Blind Alley" is the eighth book in a series that began with "The Face of Deception," the story of Eve Duncan and her protector, Joe Quinn. Eve is a forensic reconstructionist - she uses a combination of science and intuition to recreate faces when skeletal remains are all that is found of a victim. Some of the books in the series are "spin-offs" about characters peripherally tied to Eve.

I just loved the first two books in this series. Strongly liked the next two. And have only read the remaining four because I keep hoping that something of the "magic" of the first two might resurface. Not yet, I'm afraid. On my very subjective scale, I give it a 2 out of 5.

Over the course of the series, Eve and Joe have married and adopted a streetwise orphan, Jane. As seems required in many of these suspense series, Eve is having difficulties trusting Joe (seems like romance-turned-romantic-suspense writers just have to keep throwing in that conflict between "love interests"). I much prefer the evolving relationship of the married couple in J.D. Robb's novels to this kind of forced tension. I always want to ask these men why they put up with such on-again-off-again woman!

This book begins what appears to be a transition from Eve and Joe, to Jane, who's now 17 years old. However, judging by her actions, conversations, and thoughts, she's 17-going-on-40. I understand the idea that a kid found surviving on the streets at 10 years old might have an "older soul" than other children her age, but you'd think 7 years off the streets might have softened her a little. Nope.

In this book, Jane becomes the focus of a serial killer named Aldo who believes she is the reincarnation of a Herculaneum woman who apparently died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Jane has begun having dreams of being a woman named Cera, who's trying to escape a smoky, dark tunnel. Joe and Eve and drawn into the mystery by "Mark Trevor" who claims to be with the Scotland Yard, when women in their area, who bear a resemblence to Jane (and Cera), are murdered.

Cera's story begins to come out in a series of Jane's dreams (flashbacks?) and claims made by Trevor, who never really explains the source of his knowledge. There are parallels to characters in the Cera story to Trevor - Cera's untrustworthy new lover, Antonio - and Aldo - an unnamed killer hired by Cera's Roman version of a sugar daddy to murder her.

You expect when reading about serial killers to be creeped out by the murderer and the gruesome ways he finds to kill and humiliate his victims. But I actually found it harder to deal with the budding attraction and foreshadowing of future romance between 30-something Trevor and 17-year-old Jane. Can you say "ick"?!

Despite that and the fact that the whole plot is convoluted and unbelievable, I couldn't put this down. I just had to see how it ended (although at least a part of that was "please-don't-let-this-turn-into-a-love-story-between-Trevor-and-Jane"). I would like to see Eve and Joe settle into a more comfortable relationship - and yes, I'd love to see Eve finally find her first daughter and "bring her home." That's why I keep reading this declining series. What can I say? I'm a romance reader first and foremost, and I want that happy ending, dammit!

And, I suspect I will eventually read the follow-up to this, "Countdown." Jane's going to be old enough that Trevor can't be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, so I expect the foreshadowed relationship will come to fruition in that book. Plus, the book is set around an archeological dig, and I do tend to enjoy stories with that setting. But I'll be picking it up at the library.


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