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TRUST YOUR EYES by Linwood Barclay: Book Review

Linwood Barclay has done it again, creating a fascinating novel that’s nearly impossible to put down.  Actually, Trust Your Eyes is impossible to put down, as is every other Barclay book I’ve read.

Ray Kilbride has returned home to upper New York State after the death of his father, in part to determine what’s best for his younger brother.  Thomas is a high-functioning schizophrenic, obsessed with mapping all the streets in the world; he’s convinced that there will be a catastrophe in which all maps will be destroyed.

When, not if, he believes that will happen, Thomas will be the only one in the world who has the knowledge that the maps had held.  He’s been “in contact” with the CIA and former President Bill Clinton and has assured them of his abilities and cooperation in this matter.  In order to concentrate on this, Thomas has hardly left his house in several years.  He leaves his room only to have three quick meals a day and then returns to continue his memorization project.

One day, while on the web’s Whirl360 site, Thomas sees what looks like a person’s head wrapped in a plastic bag.  For as long as he looks at the window where the head is, it doesn’t move.  Could he possibly be seeing a murder taking place?

In Linwood Barclay’s adept hands, this is the main thread of the mystery but not the only one.  Allison Fitch, a young woman working as a waitress in lower Manhattan, is having money troubles.  Her salary isn’t big enough to cover her part of the rent for the apartment she shares or for all the clothes she buys, so she’s always doing a little creative financing.  At first it’s innocent enough, if not very nice, as she spins a story to her mother in order to get her mother to send her a thousand dollars.  But it turns dangerous when she decides to turn to blackmail to get sufficient funds to finally pay all her debts.

And then there are the political figures, killers-for-hire, and FBI agents coming to the Kilbrides’ house to talk to Thomas about his frequent e-mails to the CIA.  If you think this won’t all hang together to make a fantastic thriller, you obviously don’t know Linwood Barclay.

The characters in Trust Your Eyes are totally believable, as is the plot.  Sometimes the most seemingly innocent or innocuous decisions have grave consequences.  If Ray Kilbride hadn’t come home to straighten out his father’s affairs and decide about his brother’s future, he wouldn’t have seen the Whirl360 web site and gone to Manhattan to investigate what his brother thought was a murder.  If Allison Fitch hadn’t turned the television on at a particular moment, the blackmail plot would never have entered her mind.  And if Nicole had won the Olympic gold medal in gymnastics instead of the silver, she might not have become a professional assassin.

Linwood Barclay is a master of his craft.  You can read more about him at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.

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