"THE ALIAS," by Mandi Tucker Slack, Cedar Fort, $13.99, 201 pages
Mandi Tucker Slack's first published novel "The Alias" is the story of Jacey Grayson, a young divorced mother who fled an unhappy, violent marriage. She and her son, Blaze, are working to build a new life for themselves away from the violence of Blaze's father, John. John's dangerous business dealings are mostly unknown to Jacey, and John would like to keep it that way.
Blaze is keeping a secret from everyone he knows, especially his mother. But the FBI wants to find out just what Jacey and Blaze might know about John and his shady business partner. If the FBI found Jacey at her new job in a new city, then what is to stop John from doing the same?
Reacting to her fear of John, Jacey takes the advice of her roommate and best friend, Melissa, and travels with Blaze to Utah to stay with Melissa's aunt and uncle. Melissa's aunt and uncle have not seen her since she was very small, and have expressed interest in getting to know her better. Melissa's plan takes shape: Jacey will pretend to be Melissa, and no one will be the wiser, especially John.
Slack's Jacey is a well-developed character, as is the character of Jacey's son, Blaze. The characters of John and his business partner are not as developed and seem to fit into a mob boss mold, but it works for the purposes of the novel.
Jacey is obviously uncomfortable with the idea of deceiving others and pretending to be someone she is not. As she explains to Blaze, she feels that the dangerous circumstances they are in require extreme measures. Jacey knows that if John finds them, there are no guarantees, but she is never able to feel good about lying. This makes Jacey a very likable and sympathetic character.
The novel is well-paced and suspenseful, with a few twists and turns in the story that prevent it from becoming too predictable.
Christine Sedlacek earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Utah. She has been writing professionally since 2008. She blogs about life at www.ifihadanythingtosay.blogspot.com.