Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction
3*s

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

Blacklands
Darkside
Finders Keepers
Rubbernecker
The Facts of Life and Death

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

35 thoughts on “The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

  1. Cleo – Like you, I don’t much care for the ‘psychic’ plot device in novels. It puts me off as well. Still, I do really like Belinda Bauer’s work, and on that score alone I may very well read this. And the characters do sound very well-drawn.

    1. There were elements I really enjoyed, I love this author’s writing but unfortunately this is an aspect that really does bother me in novels. I’m very glad I read it but I much prefer her other books!

  2. I am not a believer in psychics myself in real life, but I don’t mind them in novels. I need to start reading this author. I think I have the first book. Putting it on my “sooner rather than later” list.

    1. I I think Finders Keepers was the book that meant I will always seek out new books by this author, but they are all very good. The only reason why my review isn’t glowing is down to the psychic which never works for me.

  3. I’ve just read Dark Side, and I was convinced Marvel died at the end – in a fire! Although, evidently not. I was disappointed as I thought him a good character. This is on my TBR, although it doesn’t sound as good as some of her previous books. Still, even not on her best form, she’s still better than most authors.

    1. It is hard because it didn’t work for me down to my particular dislike of the plot device, but there was plenty to admire. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of her previous books although I still have The Facts of Life and Death to read.

      1. Dash it! I thought, like you, it was The Facts Of Life And Death I had missing – however, I can’t remember reading Finders Keepers – although I could have and totally forgotten about it! I’ll maybe see if I can get it out of the library, or download a sample from Amazon. Clearly it wasn’t very memorable if I have read it…

  4. Oddly enough, I loved the book despite the recovering alcoholic detective and the psychic stuff. As you say, the quality of her writing is brilliant and I love how she lightens the darkness of the plot with touches of humour. She’s one of those authors I find myself forgiving, even when she goes a bit mad on the plot side. One I should have hated – but didn’t…

  5. I must start this one. Because she is such a strong author. I don’t mind a psychic element in books, although I find it hard to believe in the story as much. If that makes sense!

    1. it makes perfect sense and really the issue I had, I know it’s fiction but I need to believe the central pillar to the story and because of the subject matter I couldn’t – that said I was still keen to read to the end!

    1. I haven’t read the last one yet although I do have a copy now – I was a huge fan of the previous ones but this just didn’t quite work for me and that was down to the psychic element – better luck next time!

    1. He’s definitely in Blacklands which is (I think) set 12 years on from this one. I haven’t read this one yet, but he’s a great character in Blacklands (if not particularly PC!)

        1. Isn’t it irritating waiting for a book to be released in your country when your reading reviews of it from elsewhere? I was the same with M.O. Walsh’s My Sunshine Away last year, waiting for it to be released in the UK.

            1. I think she’s one of the most original and inventive writers of crime fiction/psychological thrillers – she’s hard to pigeon-hole! – around. Tana French is another who’s really talented, and I think if you enjoy one, you’d like the other. I guess it’s partly down to how much publicity departments push books. But there’s some really dire authors out there (mentioning no names!) who seem to have huge fan bases, and I don’t get it. Their books don’t have the same intelligence – emotional and otherwise – as Belinda’s. Hopefully in time she’ll break through. She doesn’t churn books out – it seems about 18 months between each one. She appeared with Denise Mina at Bloody Scotland – my friend Len Wanner was question master – and they were a good pairing. Plus Len really knows his crime fiction, and isn’t afraid to ask challenging questions.

            2. I totally agree with your comments around and Belinda Bauer and Tana French – not book series is the traditional sense but characters from one pop up in others. Good to hear she is making it over the water!

            3. I’ve read two Tana French–loved one, enjoyed the other, and yes I know what you mean about the quality of some of the crime books out there. Have you read The Mistake I made, Crimeworm. I picked up the recommendation here and enjoyed it.

            4. Yes! I have read The Mistake I Made, and really enjoyed it. Paula Daly is a really interesting author – I’ve read Keep Your Friends Close too, but preferred The Mistake I Made. Cleo’s taste and mine overlap quite a bit – she also enjoys the “mad Victorians” we read about, which I enjoy. I don’t think she’s as keen on US crime fiction as me, though, and I’m not so fond of Kate Morton and other time-slip/romance books, although

            5. If I’m looking at a brutal review, I’ll pass on the book. Several reasons for that–time constraints, the book may be loved by others etc.
              I have the Paula Daly’s you mentioned. I bought them after reading The Mistake I made which I found thanks to Cleo. That’s why it’s good to read blogs generated in other countries.

  6. Sorry – I do have a weakness for the occasional one! But we both like our police procedurals and domestic noir, I’ve noticed. She’s definitely one of the reviewers I pay most attention to – if she gives a book a 3, I’ll move it down the TBR pile…it’s hard to be brutal in reviews, though, as with Twitter there’s a good chance the author will read it. That’s why I’m sometimes a bit too kind – but as you’re picking your own books, you’re mostly going to enjoy them.

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