January 26, 2011
REVIEW: OTHER EYES by Barbara D'Amato
But the hit man gets it all wrong and kills Eriksen's husband, leaving her toddler to wander through the cat flap, then through a hole in a chain link fence, and out on to the Kennedy Expressway. These first pages, cutting between the danger to the child and a teen-aged driver skipping out of school early to attend a Cubs game, are mesmerizing. They are the essence of what makes a thriller: danger and taut suspense.
This book is never less than interesting, delving as it does into the archaeological processes and some extinct cultures of South America and the Middle East, but the author details much of that interesting material at the expense of the tension and thrills one expects. There are entire chapters that, were I an editor, would have been cut. They added much to the color and impact of the archaeological digs, but did nothing to move the story forward. There is a feeling that these were the parts of the book that the author cared most about, because the hit man who started out so very dangerous ends up being more of a lampoon of a hit man, so ineffectual is he. In fact, I felt as though I could have killed the professor a dozen times before the hit man even made his second -- and ill-thought out -- attempt on her life. And the third attempt doesn't bear mentioning.
Another problem is that a significant character, or would seem to be significant, is not introduced until almost two-thirds of the way into the story, and then two chapters are spent watching this character at work. This would seem to imply that how good he is at his job -- investigating art theft -- would have something to do with the main storyline, but in fact the character brings little to the story, fascinating though he is (and would be worthy of his own book).
The author has spun the threads of a great thriller and while she weaves them into an interesting book, it falls short of being a great one. D'Amato's writing has a flow that really pulls the reader into the story. With greater adherence to the main storyline and a more plausible hit man, I think this book could have been a breakout bestseller; it has that kind of unrealized potential.