Alpha Locales, Part I

I have a friend whose mother read both Alpha and Beta (and if you haven’t, then buy them now on Amazon) and kept sending her out to take pictures of some of the locales I uses in the stories. At least those around Des Moines. Beta, of course, ventures down to Oskaloosa, then up to the Quad Cities.

I thought you might like to see some of those locales from some of the scenes in each story. As you may know, I like to use actual places, fictionalized, in order to stay as close to reality as possible. I mean, unless I’m completely rearranging Des Moines in an alternate universe story, people familiar with the city won’t buy that the Principle Building is located on Mils Civic Parkway and E. P. True Parkway if that’s where. I put it. When I set out to write a story, I use as much of reality as possible.

Before I get started with showing you the images (unless you’ve skipped ahead and have already started looking at them), I want to say three things. First, all of the following are screen shots taken from Google Maps either at street level or an aerial shot. There is no advertising being done here so don’t get uptight. The second thing is that some people may recognize these places and that’s okay because, like I said, I fictionalize them, changing the names. In no way am I suggesting that anything illicit or illegal is happening in any of these places. This is fiction. Third, I would have liked to have gotten more pictures of buildings and locations, but many years have passed since I visited these places and the landscape has changed so much in the intervening time period. Some places don’t even exist any longer as you’ll soon see, or else, I’m unable to find them on the maps.

Let me start with Alpha. I’m showing you a stretch of Locust Street in downtown Des Moines. The first building on the left is where I envisioned Mallory Petersen’s office to be. At least I think it’s the building. Again, I can’t be sure since downtown has changed over the last 20+ years, but it’s a pretty good proximity.

locust street-office

Mallory visits the Des Moines Police Department and here it is.

police dept

Moving through the book in a general timeline order, (but don’t hold me to it), Mallory, on the trail of finding some information about her murdered boyfriend, first stops at his mother’s house, then at a bar on 86th near Hickman they frequented. As you can see, it’s now called The Rack, but when I was researching it, it was called something different and actually sat empty for some time.


While searching for answer to the murder, she is also trying to find her landlord’s missing daughter. She first visits the house of her ex-husband who lives in a house not too far down Forest Avenue near the Drake University campus. I don’t have a specific house chosen, but it’s not too far down this block.

forest avenue

One night, she receives a call from Darren who has a police report that she’s been seen up near Hy-Vee Near Euclid and MLK. When Mallory gets close, she sees the woman in a bus depot, ends up losing her and winds up fleeing from some bad guys along a bike path out to a walking bridge that crosses the Des Moines River. There, she defeats one of the bad guys by dumping him in the river.

Next week, I’ll continue through Alpha with more fun places in Des Moines.

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