I am consistently grateful for the fact that I’m on Bonnier Zaffre’s book blogger list, because it means that I get the chance to read things like this, which ticked lots of boxes for things I like to read.
Crime/Thriller? Tick! Shady past? Tick! Unreliable, alcoholic narrator? Tick! Mysterious circumstances that the narrator doesn’t think they’re connected to, but they end up inextricably entwined in? Tick tick tick!
It’s late. The phone rings.
The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.
The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago.
What do you do?
Nora Watts isn’t sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn’t want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?
But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . .
In Eyes Like Mine, Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who will give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Intuitive, not always likeable, and deeply flawed, Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time.
I thought that this book could end up being more of the same of things that I had read, and would therefore be disappointing. In terms of tone, it started out feeling a lot like The Girl on the Train and Try Not To Breathe, both of which I enjoyed, but the more of these things you read, the more original they need to be to pique your interest.
Eyes Like Mine managed that, though. It kept things interesting in a way that I was actually slightly surprised by. Where I thought it would be another three-star read to file away with a variety of other crime thrillers, this one actually lingered with me longer than a few others I read before it, probably due to its interesting extra dimensions of race, mixed-race heritage, adoption, homelessness, and the lush Canadian setting.
There were a lot of dimensions to this book, a lot of things to really think about, including the position of mixed-race women in Canadian society and the things that you can do if you can have enough money. Nora was a damaged, dark, twisted protagonist with a seriously traumatic past and a single-minded determination to get what she wants done. She was a singularly intriguing MC who really drew me in.
Parts of this book were pretty unrealistic – specifically the deus ex machina (or should that be deus ex oceania) towards the end of the book, and left a bit of a pall on the ending. The second book in this series is already written, and features Nora investigating her father’s death while Brazuca uncovers a crime which is also linked to Nora.. I’m not sure how keen I am on the idea of a series where every crime is mysteriously linked to the investigator, but I did really enjoy Eyes Like Mine so I would be very surprised if I don’t end up reading Nora’s next adventure at some point.