Joseph O’Loughlin is a clinical psychologist who lends his expertise to the local police from time to time. In Close Your Eyes, the eighth installment in Michael Robotham’s series, Joe finds himself once again trying to locate and stop a murderer by trying to understand how the killer thinks. This mystery, though, is anything but ordinary–as Joe quickly learns the hard way.
It all starts when a mother and daughter are found murdered. The victims, Elizabeth and Harper Crowe, were killed in their farmhouse. Police Chief Veronica Cray calls on Joe to come help her and her detectives make sense of the scene, though he is initially reluctant to help out.
Joe, while very good at what he does, is battling Parkinson’s. His disease is evident early on, noticeable while doing things such as taking a sip of water. The glass and his hand shake as he raises it to his mouth, and he no longer tries to hide it. After walking through the scene, he agrees to help under one condition: Veronica Cray must promise to not call him looking for “advice” ever again.
A deal is struck, and Joe gets to work.
As details about Elizabeth Crowe (the mother) come to light, the once seemingly straightforward case takes an abrupt turn. It turns out that she’s involved in some rather kinky sexual practices, which makes her most recent partners suspects. So too is her adopted son, Elliot, a person of intrigue. Elliot, now in his mid-twenties, has had some run-ins with the law, though he claims to have an alibi for the time of the murders.
Joe, meanwhile, notices several things that seem “off” about the crime scene. Most of his observations have to do with the daughter, and how strange it is that she was found in her room. One would think that if she heard someone breaking in, or murdering her mother, she would call the police or even try to flee from the house. Instead, she was just laying in bed. Strange, indeed.
Joe also notes several other things, like the fact that a knife is missing from the kitchen. Does that indicate the killer came unprepared? Does that even matter, ultimately? Maybe, he decides. Maybe.
A short while into the investigation, all heck breaks loose. The media gets tipped off to details they aren’t supposed to be privy to, which escalates things a tad. Then, a connection is made between the Crowe’s murders and a string of other attacks, which escalates things a lot. Now there are more suspects, and the investigation intensifies as the public becomes increasingly concerned for their safety.
Joe, for his part, tries to balance the investigation with his private life. His estranged wife has recently let him back into her life, which is something he’s desperately wanted. They have two daughters together, and being a father is something Joe loves more than anything. If only he could solve this case and then move on with his life, which is exactly his plan. Yet details around the investigation seem to cloud more and more with each day, as a killer continues walking the streets, choosing their next victim.
If ever there was a novel that would have benefited from having a “cast of characters” at the beginning, Close Your Eyes is it. Unfortunately, it does not. And unlike other mysteries where there may only be a few suspects, making it easy for the reader to keep the facts and nuances of the case straight, the plot of this book is rich and complex.
The strength of Michael Robotham’s novel is his ability to subconsciously convince the reader that you know who the killer is, before he pulls the rug out from under you and shakes things up again. However, this easily could have been more effective and enjoyable if there weren’t so many characters to follow. I found myself referring to my notes far more than I typically do when reading and preparing to write a review, which became slightly frustrating at times.
The story is told through Joe’s point of view, and unlike other crime novels and mysteries, the plot doesn’t focus entirely on the investigation. As I already mentioned, Joe’s trying to reconcile with his wife. I thought Robotham did a good job of balancing everything. However, if you’re new to this series like I am, then it’s quite frankly a little hard to care much about Joe’s personal life.
I suppose if I’d read the other novels in the series and was more invested in the main character’s life, that would matter more to me. But as someone who started with Close Your Eyes, I was far more interested in the crime and whether or not Joe would be able to figure out who the killer was.
Overall, I think this is a pretty solid crime novel that will keep even veteran mystery readers guessing until the very end.
Author: Michael Robotham
Pages: 383 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release date: April 12, 2016 (Order now!)