What I’m Reading – Trust Your Eyes By Linwood Barclay
Book Review by MICHAEL ARRUDA
Trust Your Eyes (2012), a novel by best-selling author Linwood Barclay, is a thriller that asks the question: if you saw it with your own eyes, would you believe it? It’s one of the recurring themes in this exciting novel that has enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most hardcore mystery enthusiasts.
Ray Kilbride is a successful illustrator who returns home upon his father’s death to settle the estate and take care of his schizophrenic brother Thomas, who had been living with his dad. Thomas is obsessed with maps and spends his days sitting in front of his computer watching a program called Whirl360, a program that gives him a bird’s eye view of every city in the world. With his remarkable mind, Thomas spends his days memorizing every detail of every city, believing that he is working for the CIA and former President Bill Clinton.
One day, while looking at Whirl360, Thomas witnesses what he believes is a murder in an apartment window. He shows the image to his brother Ray who, knowing his brother’s condition, doesn’t really believe it is a murder but admits that it does look suspicious. To humor his brother, Ray decides to take a day trip to New York to visit the apartment where the image was taken, hoping that perhaps he’ll find a logical answer to what his brother saw. Ray makes the trip because Thomas hardly ever leaves the house.
Ray is also distracted by something that has been bothering him since he arrived at his father’s house. His dad died in a tractor accident, as he had been mowing the lawn on a steep embankment, and his rider mower had flipped over, crushing him. Ray is disturbed because when he examined the tractor, he saw that it was in the off position and the blades had been raised, which indicated that his father had stopped the mower before he had been killed, perhaps to speak to someone. Ray knows that his father could have stopped the mower for any number of reasons, not necessarily to speak with someone who ultimately may have pushed him to his death, but still, the idea troubles him.
Ray returns from New York with little or no information about the apartment, which is now vacant. However, before long, sinister forces target Ray and Thomas, forces that will do anything, including murder, to silence anyone who witnessed the scene in the apartment window.
Trust Your Eyes is a real page turner, filled with captivating characters and innovative situations that continue to surprise throughout. By far, my favorite part of the novel is that it takes several twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. This is always fun.
On the other hand, some of the surprises weren’t as well concealed. For example, in a key murder scene, the murderer observes a car on the street below with a funny apparatus on top, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that it’s a car equipped with a Whirl360 camera. But there are enough slights of hand to overcome these moments, bombshells which Barclay has a knack for setting up.
Ray Kilbride is a very likable main character, and his schizophrenic brother Thomas is a fascinating and accurate study of a man with special needs. These two brothers drive the story along.
The supporting characters are also excellent, especially the villains. I’m happy to say that in this story there is no shortage of baddies, and they’re multidimensional, one of them even sympathetic.
If I have any complaints it’s that at times, the story does get a bit convoluted. The bad guys in this one go to such lengths to cover things up, and they make such a mess of things in the process, you wonder if they would have been better off simply observing Ray and Thomas and deducing that Thomas, a schizophrenic, and Ray, completely disinterested in the events in the window, posed no threat to them.
Taken as a whole, the story is rather farfetched, but this didn’t stop it from being loads of fun. It held my attention throughout, and author Barclay crafted several moments where I laughed out loud because of their sheer ingenuity, especially one key moment involving a phone call which may or may not be from Bill Clinton.
Trust Your Eyes is a very satisfying thriller, filled with fascinating characters, compelling situations, and several surprises along the way.