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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.

Other Eyes

Other Eyes - Barbara D'Amato A baby sits alone right next to Interstate 90 in Chicago. Cars and trucks whiz by and the baby, fascinated by the noise, begins to crawl into traffic....

Other Eyes has one of the most gripping intros I've read, and, as a rule, I'm not particularly moved by the "child in peril" storyline/device.

It's a pity the rest of the story doesn't follow through. Like any thriller, Other Eyes is driven by a "big idea," in this case, the not-too-unbelievable premise that the illegal drug trade is managed by a single, global organization that has its sticky little fingers everywhere, including law enforcement.

Blue Eriksen is an anthropologist who studies hallucinogen use in ancient cultures and how religion may have its origins in the use of mind-altering drugs. Her research has led her to a specific hallucinogen, derived from mushrooms, that ironically, may prevent drug addiction.

As one might guess, a cure for drug addiction isn't good news for the purveyors of illegal drugs. Blue is soon the target of an assassin, Felix Hacker, hired by the big, bad, Illuminati-esque drug cartel.

The problem with Other Eyes is that it lacks any sense of urgency or menace (beyond the initial baby roadkill scene). Blue travels blithely around the world, visiting dig sites where she hopes to collect tissue samples from ancient corpses. The narrative is broken up with scenes showing two of the drug cartel operatives meeting Mexican drug lords, and hoping to negotiate a kind of peace. (Because the Mexican drug wars are bad for business.) The story also follows a federal agent who is obsessed with catching the Felix Hacker.

On a trip to South America, one of Blue's colleagues is killed, but the death is ruled accidental, and Blue comes home and prepares for another trip. It takes forever for Blue and law enforcement to figure out that she is Felix's target. Felix, meanwhile, comes off looking like a bumbling idiot since he can't seem to kill one harmless college professor. The exposition and action (and I use the term loosely) centered around the drug trade falls into the "well, duh" category.

What kept me reading was my fascination with ancient culture, with Other Eyes committing quite a bit of text to the anthropology of the digs that Blue visits.

But the storyline is too disjoint, too meandering, to generate any real tension.