Linwood Barclay’s latest thriller Trust Your Eyes has receive a lot of pre-publication buzz, capped off with a cover blurb and recommendation by Stephen King. Most of the time, if King recommends a novel, I’ll pick it up and try it because I’ve had good luck with King recommendations in the past (it was King’s recommendation in EW that turned me on to the genius that is Laura Lippman).
And for the first half of Trust Your Eyes, I agreed completely with King–the book is riveting and a page-turner in that popcorn thriller kind of way. But it’s once the book hits its midway point that things derail a bit, taking the book from a four star recommendation down to a three and a half star one.
Thomas Kilbride is obsessed with maps. A high-functioning autistic, he spends his days on-line using a mapping program similar to GoogleMaps to visit and memorize the streets and layouts of major cities across the globe. Thomas is convinced he’s working covertly for the CIA and reporting to former president Bill Clinton, preparing for a day when the computer systems will be wiped out and the government will need his special knowledge of maps. Thomas is so caught up in his work that he refuses to attend his father’s funeral, much to the chagrin of his older brother Ray.
When Thomas spots something unusual in one of the maps, he alerts Ray. As Ray struggles with whether or not to believe that Thomas has found a crime, he also must figure out what will happen to his brother now that their father is gone.
What isn’t clear to Ray is that Thomas has stumbled across a vast conspiracy larger than either of them ever dared imagine. The novel alternates between’s Ray first-person narration and third-person narration on the unfolding conspiracy involving an attorney general with gubernatorial aspirations, his wife and a waitress who may know more than she’s telling.
For the first half of the novel, Barclay plays cat and mouse games with the reader, slowly creating certain expectations and then pulling the rug out from under readers. And while this works for the first half of the novel, it’s one we get to certain revelations in the second half of the story that the twists and turns feel less clever and more like Barclay is trying too hard.
All of these various elements lead to showdown and a finale right out of your Hollywood big budget action thriller. As I said before, this is a popcorn novel. It’s a lot of fun and compelling as you turn page after page, but it isn’t quite the satisfying meal it could or should be.