Saturday, 21 March 2015

Book review: THE SHUT EYE by Belinda Bauer

The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

The Shut Eye
Author: Belinda Bauer
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Read: March 2015
Available from:
12 March 2015

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

And now they are all his mother has left.

Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.

When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn't? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son...

But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?

Or is he something far, far worse?

My thoughts:

Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel has no time for nonsense or luxuries such as showing human kindness and compassion, but when there is a murder to solve he is  the right man for the job – dogged, determined and unrelenting. Therefore, he is less than impressed when he is pulled off the case of missing twelve-year-old schoolgirl Edie Evans in order to investigate the disappearance of his boss’ wife poodle Mitzi. But DCI Marvel is also a good judge of people’s characters and knowing their weaknesses, and if the silly poodle will help his career along he is willing to put all his efforts into the investigation.

In the meantime, Anna Buck is also suffering the consequences of a child’s disappearance. Her four-year-old son Daniel has vanished without a trace after his father James Buck accidentally left the front door to their house open. All that remains of Daniel are his footprints left behind in a batch of fresh concrete poured on the day he went missing. Without any leads to his whereabouts all that is left for Anna to do is to stand guard over her son’s footprints as she slowly spirals into a dark void of madness and blame for her husband. In her desperation, Anna visits a church where self-proclaimed psychic Richard Latham promises to channel messages from the dead – and the missing. The same church Mitzi’s owner incidentally also attends to receive messages from her beloved lost pet. But whilst Latham is happy to channel the lost dog’s messages, he refuses to help Anna. In her ever-growing despair and madness she is suddenly seeing strange visions she thinks may be connected to Mitzi but which contain uncanny details from Edie Evans’ disappearance. Cynical DCI Marvel does not believe in psychics and any such nonsense, but he cannot explain Anna’s visions and how she would know information only the police has access to. Could she or her husband be somehow involved in Edie’s disappearance? Or is she really able to somehow make contact with the lost girl?

After fighting hard to overcome my instant dislike of DCI Marvel I got drawn into the story by Anna’s character and couldn’t put the book down. After some time I even found myself warming to the rude, cold and unlikeable character of Marvel. Perhaps his dogged determination to find the missing girl does have an element of human compassion rather than being merely career driven - I am always willing to give people the benefit of doubt. And as Marvel fights with his own scepticism regarding Anna’s “visions” and the strange events surrounding them, a glimpse of humanity does occasionally shine through.

Bauer writes with a degree of black humour and keen observation of the dark elements of human nature which both made this book an enjoyable read for me. I instantly got drawn into Anna’s story, and was shocked as intended by some of the “WHAT????” moments the author delivers like punches straight to the solar plexus. Such as the baby ... but not giving away any spoilers here. Bauer knows how to build up tension as she slowly unravel the intricate plot – and whilst I am generally not a fan of supernatural themes in mysteries (since they are often unbelievable and not all that well done), Bauer knows how to seamlessly weave them into the story and balance them out with Marvel’s scepticism. As a murder-mystery The Shut Eye had all the elements of a good gripping read and I look forward to reading more from this author in future.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice review, I agree with many of the points you have made.