Linwood Barclay is the #1 thriller writer in Great Britain. While he has not quite attained that status on this side of the Atlantic, his latest thriller, TRUST YOUR EYES, is the book that should put him there. It is a masterpiece of the genre that stakes its claim on the first page and delivers the goods with each succeeding paragraph.
"Barclay starts lobbing hand grenades out of the pages about a third of the way into the novel and doesn’t stop doing so until the very end. We’re not talking flash grenades, either; there won’t be a door in your house that won’t be blown off its hinges once you finish this book."
TRUST YOUR EYES begins with a man witnessing a murder, but not in real time. He is perusing a website called Whirl360.com, which provides a street view of the cities of the world, as captured at some indeterminate point in the past, when he sees a woman through a window, caught gasping her last few breaths. The city is New York, and the man is Thomas Kilbride. Afflicted with schizophrenia, Thomas is obsessed with maps, and even more so with Whirl360, which enables him to visit the cities of the world street by street. Amazingly enough, he can also remember all the details of each and every street as he “strolls” along each one. He cannot get anyone to believe what he has seen, particularly his brother Ray.
An illustrator who is very much in demand, Ray, following the death of their father, is suddenly called upon to function as Thomas’ caregiver, a task that he is sorely prepared to undertake. The job is further complicated by the fact that Thomas insists that he is employed by the CIA, so that when (not if) all of the maps in the world are wiped out by a disaster, he will be able to step in as a substitute. Meanwhile, the gubernatorial campaign of the sitting New York Attorney General is threatened with blackmail by a difficult young woman who possesses information that has the potential to turn the upcoming election upside down.
So what do these two very different plots have in common? Each other, as it turns out; Barclay slowly and almost imperceptibly draws these storylines close together until they intersect, with plenty of twists, turns and sleights of hand along the way. There are also all sorts of interesting elements thrown in for strong purpose and good measure. These include the phone calls that Thomas receives from a former president; a death that may or may not be a murder (call it an “ifdunit,” a “whydunit” or a “whodunit,” and you’d be right) and a relationship between brothers Thomas and Ray that will put you a bit in the mind of two other siblings named Charlie and Raymond Babbitt.
There’s some laugh-out-loud black humor and some very grim and violent passages, as well as a dangerous contract killer with quite an exotic background. Oh, and lest I forget, Barclay starts lobbing hand grenades out of the pages about a third of the way into the novel and doesn’t stop doing so until the very end. We’re not talking flash grenades, either; there won’t be a door in your house that won’t be blown off its hinges once you finish this book.
Did I like TRUST YOUR EYES? No, I loved it. I wanted to buy it flowers and ply it with wine before I even read the first few pages. I didn’t need to; the book still kept me up all night and gave me an experience I won’t soon forget. It will happen to you as well.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 7, 2012