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Blind Alley (Eve Duncan) [Hardcover]

Iris Johansen

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Book Description

14 Sep 2004 Eve Duncan
The New York Times bestselling author of Firestorm, Iris Johansen, returns with a psychological thriller so terrifying, so relentlessly paced, it won’t leave you time to catch your breath before the next shock comes. A forensic sculptor is locked in a deadly duel with a serial killer determined to destroy her—one life at a time.

Eve Duncan’s job is to put a face on the faceless victims of violent crimes. Her work not only comforts their survivors—but helps catch their killers. But there is another, more personal reason that Eve Duncan is driven to do the kind of work she does—a dark nightmare from a past she can never bury. And as she works on the skull of a newly discovered victim, that past is about to return all over again.

The victim is a Jane Doe found murdered, her face erased beyond recognition. But whoever killed her wasn’t just trying to hide her identity. The plan was far more horrifying. For as the face forms under Eve’s skilled hands, she is about to get the shock of her life. The victim is someone she knows all too well. Someone who isn’t dead. Yet.

Instantly Eve’s peaceful life is shattered. The sanctuary of the lakeside cottage she shares with Atlanta detective Joe Quinn and their adopted daughter Jane has been invaded by a killer who’s sent the grimmest of threats: the face of his next victim. To stop him, Eve must put her own life in the balance and question everything and everyone she trusts. Not even Quinn can go where Eve must go this time.

As the trail of faceless bodies leads to a chilling revelation, Eve finds herself trying to catch a master murderer whose grisly work is a testament to a mind warped by perversion and revenge. Now she must pit her skills against his in a showdown where the stakes are life itself—and where the unbearable cost of failure will make Eve’s own murder seem like a mercy killing.

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Joe watched the body wrapped in a dark green tarp being carefully lifted from the grave by the forensic team. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  111 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This does more than just hurt! It's truly painful! 25 July 2006
By Paul Weiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Blind Alley" is the fifth novel in the continuing story of Eve Duncan, forensic sculptor, Joe Quinn, Atlanta police detective and Jane MacGuire, their precocious seventeen year old adopted daughter rescued from the streets. Be warned that much of this review might be construed as spoilers but I'm betting that it's not going to matter much since you'll likely be giving the book a pass anyway!

I used to treat Iris Johansen as a sure thing! You know what I mean - the kind of author whose new title you'd add to your reading list without even caring what the plot line was or you'd pick up a copy at the store without even bothering to flip open the dust jacket for a peek! "Blind Alley" buried that thought - cold, deep and fast! It was a great deal more than just bad - it was truly painful!

A shadowy serial killer named Aldo is on the loose slaughtering women in a most unseemly, gruesome fashion. Carving their living faces right off their skulls, Aldo imagines himself responsible for the systematic elimination of all women who resemble Cira, a courtesan/actress/prostitute killed two thousand years ago in the town of Herculaneum when Vesuvius erupted. It would seem that Aldo is a little upset at having lost the love and attention of his father, an archeologist who became obsessed with Cira when he discovered her statue and some details of her life.

As if that isn't deep enough in left field as the premise for a thriller, imagine the eyebrows you'll raise when you read that Jane MacGuire, Eve Duncan and Joe Quinn's adopted 17 year old daughter is a ringer for Cira. Not only does she find herself stalked by Aldo but some inexplicable psychological attachment to Cira plagues Jane with regular nightmares in which she is trapped in caves or tunnels fleeing for her life from the eruption of Vesuvius.

It doesn't end there - Johansen tosses Mark Trevor into the mix. He's a con and an antiquities smuggler (picture Lovejoy with a nasty streak!) who had a run-in with Aldo and is intent on killing him. To that end he intrudes himself into Eve Duncan's and Joe Quinn's life and sets himself up as Jane's protector. Now, I'm no prude but the scene in which Trevor, a grown man at least as old as Joe, has a near sexual encounter with Jane, a typical seventeen year old teenager with respect to her hormones and sexuality, is just plain distasteful and, frankly, scored well into the red zone on the "yuk" meter!

There is just so much wrong with this novel, it's difficult to know where to begin and where to stop - nightmares that start, happen and end with no explanation or psychological development at all; unlike any previous Johansen novel I've read, the characters and dialogue seem trite, wooden and completely contrived; the outcome of Mark Trevor as a character is left spectacularly un-resolved; Eve Duncan's obsession with her murdered daughter, Bonnie, continues unabated and is definitely becoming downright irritating; a wonderful sub-plot concerning Eve's forensic reconstruction of a real skull from the Vesuvius eruption was simply deep-sixed!

I still own a few Johansen titles that I haven't read so there is perhaps hope. But she'll have to prove to me that she hasn't jumped the shark before I'll spend another cent on a new title!

Paul Weiss
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The End of the Road 24 Oct 2004
By Valerie - Published on Amazon.com
This is going to be the last Iris Johansen book I'll buy in hardcover, and there's no certainty I'll be buying any in paperback either.

Although this book is promoted as being about Eve Duncan, don't be fooled. She, and her partner Joe Quinn, are very peripheral characters here. Instead, its their 17 year old, foster daughter Jane that takes center stage. And she has none of the character or personality of her fictional parents. In fact, Jane is just flat out boring.

Seems there's a killer going around and cutting the faces off women that look like Jane. His motives are confusing, and pretty nonsensical, but no matter. For a villian, he's dull and 2-dimensional, and completely without personality. He exists purely to be thwarted. At no time does he comes across as menacing, there are no suprises.

The male romantic lead here is Trevor, and like Jane and the villian, he too comes across as dull and uninspiring. Perhaps its just me, but the attraction that develops between 17 year old Jane, and 30+ Trevor was just uncomfortable. I don't understand how an author thats created such interesting, inspiring characters like Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Sarah, Logan, Elena, Galen, Judd Morgan can fail so utterly in infusing life and energy into her newest creations.

My advice, save your money on this one, at least in hardcover. This book might be a tolerable paperback read if you are in a bind, and want something that won't tax your brain or require any emotional investment.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Men and Annoying Women 14 July 2005
By Irish Accountant - Published on Amazon.com
I am getting ready to move to our new house and needed a new book to read. Well for some reason this one did not get packed so I grabbed it. What a waste of time. First of all Jane has to be one of the most annoying characters I have come across in a long time. I was actually cheering for Aldo to kill her just so she would shut up. Then Trevor (an adult male) having a crush on Jane (a 17 year old girl) was just creepy. I do not care if he was there to try and help no preverted man who is lusting after my high school daughter is coming into our lives.

The plot was pathetic and after all the building up to catch Aldo the writer ends the climax in like two paragraphs.

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What has happened to Eve Duncan? 12 April 2005
By Mike Milam - Published on Amazon.com
Where did Iris Johansen put Eve Duncan after so many successful years?

I have read all but two of Johansen's books. I am an admirer of her character Eve Duncan. She developed Eve over the years to be a very strong character.

Blind Alley is a very disappointing piece of work. It's almost as if Johansen decided to make Eve weak in order to make Jane strong. And who is Mark Trevor and why do we need yet another 'rascal' male lead to make the female lead more 'credible'? Poor dialogue. Hardly credible plot line. Strange supporting cast. Bad choice.

Whoever advised Johansen to proceed with this work is looking for new money, not old fans.

Too bad.

Not a good read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the worst book I've ever read, but close 17 May 2005
By BC in Tennessee - Published on Amazon.com
I just finished this book today, and I wish I had read some of the reviews before I ever picked it up. The characters are boring, shallow, and non-descript, and the plot is perfectly linear and predictable. I finished it, which is more than I can say for a few books, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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