If you’re taking a staycation this summer but want to experience the hands-on thrill of a roller coaster ride, then pick up CLOSE MY EYES by Sophie McKenzie. You won’t know which end is up.
The book introduces the unsuspecting reader to Geniver Loxley, who experienced the agony of stillbirth some eight years previously. Materially, Geniver and her husband, Art, are quite comfortable, thanks in large part to the success of Art’s company, Loxley Benson, which, in turn, has been fueled by his appearances on “Trials,” a popular British television program. Such is his success that even the British Prime Minister is seeking his advice. Yet Geniver has been unable to move ahead from the devastation of losing their child.
"CLOSE MY EYES is a wild night’s ride that will have you up reading into the wee hours, and then fishing around in your spouse’s locked filing cabinet. Be careful what you look for."
But when a stranger named Lucy O’Donnell appears on the Loxleys’ doorstep, Geniver’s world is turned upside down again. Lucy tells Geniver that her recently deceased sister was the nurse who assisted at the birth of Geniver’s child, and that the baby who Geniver thought was dead for all these years is, in fact, alive. Geniver’s immediate reaction is that she is being set up by a con artist. Art, who was present at the tragic birth, patiently assures her that their child indeed passed away. Geniver cannot let the matter go, however, particularly when a couple of minor things that Art tells her don’t quite add up. When she attempts to contact the obstetrician who assisted at the birth, she discovers that he has seemingly vanished. Geniver then learns that Lucy is dead, killed in an apparent hit-and-run accident. When she finds out that the anesthesiologist who assisted at the birth was also killed some eight years ago, Geniver is certain that the tragedy she believed to have occurred did not happen at all.
Aided by Lorcan Byrne, a former friend and colleague of her husband who left Loxley Benson under cloudy circumstances, Geniver begins an obsessive quest to determine what precisely happened to her baby and why. The problem is that none of it makes sense, so almost no one, from her husband to her mother to her best friend, seems to believe her.
Only Lorcan, to whom she quickly becomes attracted, seems willing to go out on a limb for her. But when they find evidence that backs up Lucy’s story, it only raises additional questions that are even more puzzling, for many different reasons. By the time Geniver gets the answers, it becomes all too clear to her that in some ways she would have been better off not knowing what actually transpired.
There are points early on when it seems like a domestic drama is slowly unfolding. Keep reading. The proceedings take a sharp left turn about midway through, and from there it becomes impossible to guess what is going to happen, as McKenzie starts lobbing live bombs into the mix and continues to do so right up to the last page. To put it another way, think of cruising along on a two-lane highway and having your left front and right rear tire go off as you approach an oncoming semi-tractor trailer. Does it sound like fun? It is. CLOSE MY EYES is a wild night’s ride that will have you up reading into the wee hours, and then fishing around in your spouse’s locked filing cabinet. Be careful what you look for.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 12, 2013