First published back in 1985, John Stevenson’s short tale ‘The Blind Alley’ was released as a stand-alone story for the Fearon Education ‘Fastback’ series.  The Fastback series were designed to encourage reluctant readers to take up reading, keeping the stories short, sharp and thrilling. This one was published within the ‘Crime and Detection’ series.

The story was later published within the ‘After Midnight’ (1989) Fastback Anthology.

DLS Synopsis:
For James Katt, his private detective work had really dried up of late. As such, when a blind man walked into his office with a large black dog leading the way, Katt jumped into action. The man introduced himself as Willard Barclay and got straight down to business, explaining to Katt that he wanted to hire him to undertake a payoff. The job was as simple as it got. Katt was to meet with Barclay’s blackmailer, and exchange a briefcase filled with cash for an envelope containing a number of compromising photos. That was it.

James Katt knew blackmail payoffs very rarely went smoothly. Often the blackmailer got greedy. Or things could quickly turn sour. But he needed the money. So, he took the job. However, as it turned out, Katt’s gut instincts were right. There was something not right about the whole thing. Something not right at all…

DLS Review:
Stevenson’s short tale is a somewhat cliched private investigation affair, involving a blackmail payoff that goes wrong. Well, not exactly wrong, more it was an elaborate ploy. Of course, our astute private detective follows his gut instinct and quickly unravels the overly elaborate web of deceit.

It’s all incredibly elaborate and farfetched. The story also doesn’t drop any real clues along the way to promote the big twist-ending with a clever unveiling of how it all ties together. In fact, the story is a somewhat lazy crime and detection piece, going more for wildly elaborate rather than cleverly conceived. Still a relatively enjoyable read nonetheless.

The Fastback runs for a total of 29 pages (which are just 4” x 5.5” with an average word count of around 100 words per page).

© DLS Reviews


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