The Eyes of Others

Mikael Carlson’s The Eyes of Others is the story of a mole within the walls of the Washington intelligence agencies, haemorrhaging sensitive information to enemies of the United States that has resulted in a number of American deaths. If you had a mental still at that description of a grim-faced Liam Neeson looking at you down the barrel of a handgun with a massive explosion silhouetting the White House in the background, we’re probably on the same page.

In many ways, this is a familiar plot outline, subject of countless movies and thrillers. This book takes the unusual approach of relating its story from multiple first-person viewpoints, clueing the reader in by naming which of the protagonists or secondary characters is telling this particular segment via chapter headings. While I, personally, found it confusing and frequently irritating when I had to scroll back up to the top of the chapter to figure out which war hero or intrepid law enforcement officer I was reading in that piece, the novel structure does tie back appealingly to the book title. However, for me the sheer number of the secondary characters through which I had to head hop (in first person) made the read somewhat disjointed. In terms of characterisation, by far the strongest character is a secondary called “Louisiana”, who tends to grab the spotlight by the short and curlies whenever he shows up, effectively distracting you from any other character you might be reading about, but he stands out from all the macho alphabet agency types and decorated ex-military heroes simply by virtue of not being like anyone else in the book.

Overall, the plot was a solid, fairly well-written high-octane thriller read, with plenty of explosions, a nice offering of car chases, and a few shoot-outs. Readers who like to figure out the bad guy on their own will note there isn’t much by way of bread crumbs leading you to final villain, but it does make for a very nice plot twist come the final few chapters when you hit the grand reveal. While this book certainly merited its three stars, I didn’t find it quite had that extraordinary combination of truly appealing characters, original plotting and sheer flair that singles out a five-star and makes me read and re-read a book until the covers fall off.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books blog.

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