Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.
And now they are all his mother has left.
Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.
When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn’t? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son…
But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?
Or is he something far, far worse?
The Shut Eye is set in Lewisham, South London. Detective Chief Inspector Jack Marvel is part of the Met, but working on the cusp of its jurisdiction. He is one step away from his next drink, in a marriage that is less than perfect and he is not exactly on the fast track to success. He’s always got an eye on how to leverage any small advantage.
Jack Marvel doesn’t believe in psychics and his one experience of a case that used one, Richard Latham, has left him with no warm feelings towards claims of connecting with the departed. That case is a cold case that still obsesses him;the disappearance of a young girl, Edie Evans. Despite his best efforts, all that is left to tell the tale of Edie’s disappearance is a buckled bicycle, still in the evidence room, but yielding no clues.
Anna Buck blames her garage mechanic husband James for leaving the door open; the door that let out her young son Daniel. It is his footprints in the cement that she ritually cleans every day. She is more than anguished, she is in physical pain, tortured at not knowing whether Daniel is alive, but feeling he can’t be dead. She looks for hope in the one place she can – in a visit to a psychic.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, because of the psychic element. But I really enjoyed it, because the writing is strong, the structure is clear and the narrative is excellent.
The characters felt true to life – I really liked W.P.C. Emily Aguda – “her job was to be nice to people and smile – what with her being black and a woman and a symbol and all.”
Overall, the story is told in such clear prose that you feel the grief of the parents and understand what drives Anna to do the things she does in order to cope with her aching grief at losing her son.
A shut eye is somebody who believes they have psychic powers. And while psychic powers do play a strong role in the narration of this crime story, they do so in a way which is ultimately satisfyingly well told.
Jack Marvel is a flawed and well drawn character and there is some good internal political power play between him and his Chief Superintendent, – only one of them can come out on top.
This is more than a run of the mill crime thriller, it is a haunting, well constructed and moving story that starkly shows the anguish parents go through when a child goes missing. Well worth reading.
The Shut Eye is published by Bantam Press on 12 March 2015