Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Other Eyes by Barbara D'Amato

Other Eyes
by Barbara D'Amato
Release Date: January 18, 2011
2011 Forge Books
Hardcover Edition; 375 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2606-5
Genre: Fiction Suspense / Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Blue Eriksen is a famous forensic archaeologist based at Northwestern University. She and her team are traveling the globe, testing mummies to research the use of hallucinogens in the development of ancient religions. Armed with evidence from ancient peoples, Blue has become convinced that psilocybin—a hallucinogen derived from mushrooms—can prevent or cure drug addiction. She hopes to develop testing and treatment centers.

Leeuwarden Ltd. is the cover name for a deeply secret international organization that facilitates the production, delivery, and sale of illegal drugs worldwide, much as OPEC facilitates the sale of oil. Leeuwarden considers Blue a long-term threat and sends Felix Hacker—one of their enforcers—to kill her. Blue has no idea she's being stalked and prepares for a dig high in the Peruvian mountains...

My Thoughts
A young baby crawls onto Interstate 90 and creates a huge pile-up, fascinated by the sound and the noise of the traffic, nobody knowing where he came from or to whom he belongs.  A teenager saves the day and enters a world in which he has little experience, opening his eyes to a world he little imagined.  I have to honestly admit that Barbara D'Amato certainly knows how to create introductions that grip the reader and draw them into her novels in a way that is often very creative and highly original.  It's a shame that the rest of the novel did not live up to the gripping introduction.

I have read quite a few of Barbara D'Amato's novels and really enjoyed them tremendously.  She has a way of drawing the reader in, and keeping them in suspense and on edge throughout, but unfortunately, while Other Eyes was interesting and fun to read, the usual intensity and suspense were definitely lacking and there was little in the way of a solid storyline in terms of what we come to expect from Ms. D'Amato's novels.  It took quite a while to set up the story in terms of connecting the baby to Blue Eriksen, the principal character, and Blue herself didn't realize she was in danger until almost at the end of the novel.  Blue travels around the world in pursuit of her archaelogical findings, never leaving her son alone, but is never cognizant of the fact she is in danger, even when others are killed around her.  The story is broken up by other storylines that, while interesting, just didn't add that much suspense to the main storyline.  These drug cartels are worried that Blue's work might produce an antidote to drug addiction and cut into their profits, but nothing really came out of the storyline other than she was pursued by a shady character and almost killed several times by someone we become familiar with through the narrative. 

I think the only thing that really kept me reading was the interesting facts about the culture and history that were mentioned throughout the novel.  As a history buff, I was fascinated by the descriptions of early Peruvian and other ancient cultures that were described and learned quite a bit.  As a suspense / thriller novel, it left quite a bit to be desired, never fulfilled its expectations, and I was left pretty disappointed with the end result.  Even the rather interesting introduction never built up steam and could have been left out with little impact on the story. 

Blue herself is someone that I enjoyed as a character, but maybe because I have always wanted to be an archaeologist and I find her work to be fascinating.  Other than that, the characters didn't stand out for me or appeal to me in any sense of the word.  Even Drake, womanizer that he is, didn't really make me feel anything.  The focus was more on the culture and history rather than on character development and I always felt distant from them rather than empathetic even when things went wrong. 

Barbara D'Amato writes beautifully and explores a lot of the ancient cultures as well as modern day cultures that is rather fascinating.  That is probably the only thing that really kept me reading as I felt there was way too much time spent on the archaeology of things rather than on the plot and the suspense, which fell rather short in my estimation.  Many of the storylines would build up, only to lose their threads over and over again, and it was pretty frustrating on the reader's part.  For fans of suspense / thriller novels, I would be hesitant to recommend this novel, but if you enjoy cultural history and archaeology, you may find this interesting.


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