Five footprints made before the concrete had set in the garage forecourt are all that is left of Daniel Buck. Daniel’s mother Anna has made it her mission to keep the footprints clean while simultaneously blaming her husband, Daniel’s father, James for leaving the door open on the morning of his disappearance.
The Shut Eye in the title refers to the psychic, Richard Latham that Anna visits hoping for a lead to find Daniel who holds his meetings in a church hall where is throws out random names to his audience sat on the edge of their plastic chairs.
As always Belinda Bauer’s writing is an absolute delight, even in such a tragic tale involving two missing children she manages to inject some wry humour, much needed when Anna’s grief is so raw and so perfectly depicted. With the shut eye busy trying to track down a missing dog he is unwilling to help Anna, something happened on a previous case which he is unwilling to revisit. Jack Marvel is the detective in charge in another missing child young Edie Evans. He is a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t believe in psychics and the detective who we first met in Dark Side, haunted by Edie Evans, a twelve-year-old girl who he has been trying to find for a year, the only clue being her bicycle. With Jack’s superior officer stalling the investigation into Richard Latham more difficult than need be, having engaged the psychic to find his wife’s lost dog it is only a matter of time before relations between the two come to a head.
The story is well-constructed with plenty of great observations but I found the psychic element off-putting because I simply didn’t believe the visions that drove much of the plot forward. Where Belinda Bauer’s excels is in depicting people and there were many varied characters populating this book, from the hysterical garage owner who ‘fired’ his hapless mechanic over and over again to appease his clients to the brilliantly self-effacing Emily Aguda the black policewoman who keeps her sexuality hidden to avoid any further reasons for her bosses to keep her on the desk rather than out catching criminals as she wants to.
If unlike me you aren’t put off by the psychic element you will find this to be another excellent novel by a talented writer whose plots are ingenious, the everyday details meticulously yet not clumsily inserted into the prose and a pace that kept even this disbeliever turning the pages at a rate to find out what really happened the day Daniel left his footprints in the cement. This isn’t an easy book to read, grief-stricken Anna is only too realistic which are cleverly depicted by her actions rather than her words and all the more distressing because of that.
I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of this book ahead of its publication on 12 March 2015.
Previous Books by Belinda Bauer