Mystery Books for Sale

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by Sophie McKenzie
St. Martin's, July 2013
390 pages
ISBN: 1250033896

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Almost before we meet any of the characters in CLOSE MY EYES, we are thrust into the twists and turns that begin as Gen is visited by the sister of the nurse who was in attendance eight years ago when Gen had an emergency C-section to deliver her dead baby, Beth. The news is that Gen's baby was actually born alive, but has been hidden from Gen for the last eight years. Within a few hours, her visitor dies in a hit and run accident shortly after Gen tells her husband, Art, about the visit. She neglects to tell him that the informer had said Art was complicit in the deception.

As Gen tries to process the devastating news, Art and Gen's best friend, Hen, try hard to convince her she is crazy to entertain any hope based on this stranger's suggestion. This all occurs as Gen is trying to get ready for a birthday party for Art, with his beautiful and remote half-sister in attendance. Art's business associates and clients, friends of both Art and Gen, and a disgraced past business associate of Art's, Lorcan, all come to the party. Lorcan and Gen seem to hit it off, and when faced with Art's reluctance to pursue the possibility that Beth is still alive, Gen turns to Lorcan to help her find the truth.

And we're off and running! Gen spends the rest of the book trying to figure out whether her baby is alive and, if so, how Art is involved. She and Lorcan travel all over the countryside following leads, and one twist leads to the next in rapid succession. There's a definite sense of distrust throughout the book, and the general twistiness of the plot leads the reader to question even what seems clear. It is not hard to imagine this book as a movie or TV show there are several similarly convoluted conspiracy shows on at the moment that this book reminds me of, most notably ORPHAN BLACK. In fact, its fairly straight-line narrative, always from Gen's perspective, seems more like the TV show than like the book it is being compared to GONE GIRL.

Although CLOSE MY EYES is a psychological thriller, because it is so plot-driven, the characters do not really come alive. The twists and turns of the plot begin to take place before the reader has a chance to get to know any of the characters. Background on the characters is fitted into the story as necessary to make the twists plausible, and while that does keep the reader engaged in the plot, it doesn't serve to make the characters seem real. Even what we think we know about the characters early on is turned about as the plot runs off in a different direction.

The book held me captive, and I read it in nearly one sitting. I was concerned that if I set it down, I would lose track of where I was in the complicated plot. However, not having developed a connection with the characters, I'm unlikely to pick up the sequel that the ending of the book seems to suggest is on its way.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, June 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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