Dead Eyed | Matt Brolly | 2015 | Carina Press | 315p | Review copy | Buy the book
When a killer calls, Michael Lambert is taking some time out of his career to try and pick up the shredded pieces of his marriage and family. Lambert had been a successful DCI before being headhunted to work for a powerful and hidden police agency, becoming lost to many who knew him, becoming even further lost when personal tragedy left him unable to work. It’s appropriate that at the moment when Lambert thinks he might be about ready to face work again an old friend, Simon Klatzky, hands him a file that had been mysteriously sent to him. It contains the images of a crime scene – a man lies dead, tortured, his eyes removed and a Latin phrase carefully carved into his chest. He wasn’t killed until the murderer’s work was done.
Both Lambert and Klatzky are shocked by more than the brutality of the murder. They recognise the killer’s work. Almost twenty years ago, while at University together, a mutual friend was killed in exactly the same way, the same phrase etched into his chest, the start of a spate of serial murders that had stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Why is the murderer killing again after such a long pause? And why have the files been sent to Klatzky? Lambert immediately has his investigative status reactivated, in which capacity he manages to both help and hinder the local police case. As more murders follow, some of which bizarrely yet clearly intentionally differ from the killer’s usual MO, Lambert begins to dread that the murders might be linked by more than the murderer – Lambert himself might hold the key to the entire case.
Dead Eyed has a fantastic plot and it kept me gripped from first to last page with its delicious twistyness. While most of the novel follows the investigations of Lambert and the local police detective DI Sarah May, we’re given glimpses into the lives of the baddies and not all is as it seems. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t guess whodunnit either – always a bonus. Lambert himself retains his air of mystery but we’re given every chance to like Sarah May. Their relationship plays a strong part in the novel.
Slightly less successful in my opinion is Simon Klatzky who becomes more and more the irritating associate that you can’t shake off. We know that Lambert was once close to him but we never knew that Simon. We have to put up with the one before us and he is immensely annoying. My other very minor issue is Lambert’s repeated assertion that he won’t give information to the police just yet. We all know that this means he’ll get into otherwise avoidable trouble. It also means that Lambert couldn’t do more to make himself seem a suspect. The evil that is on display here, though, is chillingly portrayed.
Dead Eyed is Matt Brolly’s debut novel and is just the first in a new series to feature DCI Michael Lambert. Lambert is a strong character with a dark past, not just in his family life but also, one senses, in his career. We are introduced to him at an intriguing time in his life – we’re all familiar with detectives with more than their fair shade of angst and turmoil but, in Dead Eyed, Lambert might be ready to move on. There is a strong sense that there is a lot to learn about this interesting, secretive man. I would never have guessed that this is a debut novel. The writing is assured and confident, the characterisation is mostly spot on and, as previously mentioned, the plot is a fine one.
Dead Eyed is such an enjoyable read. Tense, dark and with quite a grip, I can’t wait for the next.
I’m delighted to post this review as part of the blog tour for Dead Eyed. For other stops on the tour, please do take a look at the poster below.