Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Other Eyes

Other EyesOther Eyes by Barbara D'Amato

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This thriller begins with an arresting scene: a baby crawls across several lanes of traffic on I-90 in Chicago. The baby is saved, but police detective Tommy Pollard no idea of who he is or where his parents are.

Unfortunately, we're not going to return to the baby for a while. Instead, we are introduced to Blue Eriksen, an archaeologist with controversial ideas. We eventually figure out - fifty pages into the book - that she is the baby's mother.

Then, there's the dread assassin the FBI agents are pursuing. Felix Hacker is in Chicago for some reason, and it can't be good. FBI agent Marcus plans to catch him with the help of other agents, but Hacker slips out of town after several stupid mistakes on the parts of the locals.

We bounce between Blue blithely planning research in Peru and the Keystone Kop action... what about the baby? Eventually, we get back to Detective Pollard, who is more astute than the group chasing the assassin. He traces the baby's trail back to Blue's house, where he finds that the father, Blue's ex-husband, has been murdered.

Eighty pages into the book, Blue discovers that her baby is the one everybody has been talking about. This pretty much sets the pace of the novel.

Blue clears things up with the police - she was being interviewed about her controversial theories at the time of the murder, so she has an ironclad alibi. Then, we travel to Peru with her.

The trip is highly educational for the reader. We learn a bit about modern Peru, but we learn more about the ancient Peruvians. Blue likes to visualize how the skeletons they discover wound up in their current condition, so we are treated to several vignettes of the lives of these ancients.

Oh, and there's a cartel that's trying to get the drug dealers in Mexico on the same page. By the way, they hired Hacker to kill Blue because she thinks hallucinogens might be able to cure drug addiction.

Hacker's still trying to kill Blue. After a failed attempt to kill her with a rockslide, it becomes a matter of principle for him to complete the job.

One of Blue's fellow professors is killed in the slide. His brother works in Europe, solving art crimes. The latest theft was inspired by a story written by Jacques Futrelle. Fortunately, the brother is also familiar with the story.

Blue goes on to Turkey. More research, more vignettes. She finds out that the rockslide was no accident, so she calls in the brother for assistance. More intrigue follows... but first, the baby's birthday party.

Barbara D'Amato has a great track record as an author, but I had serious problems finishing this novel. There were so many intervening scenes and situations, the thread - and, more importantly, the excitement - of the main plot was lost again and again. And I'm speaking as someone who likes history, archaeology, and mystery religions.

I enjoyed D'Amato's writing style and the information on the ancient cultures... but there was too much education and not enough time spent on the central plot. Fans of archaeology may enjoy this book, but if you're expecting a James Bond-style caper with a secretive crime cartel and a relentless assassin, prepare to be frustrated.

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