Sunday, July 3, 2011

Eyes Wide Open (Gross Series #5) by Andrew Gross

A horrible family tragedy that may not be what it seems . . .

A past encounter with an infamous killer turns deadly today . . .

An ordinary man must risk his own family to find the truth.

Jay Erlich's nephew has been found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay. It's all just a tragic suicide, until secrets from the past begin to rear up again. Did a notorious killer, jailed for many decades, have his hand in this?

Years ago, Jay Erlich's older brother, Charlie, a wayward child of the sixties, set out for California, where he fell under the sway of a charismatic but deeply disturbed cultlike figure. Tragedy ensued and lives were destroyed, but as the decades passed, Charlie married and raised a family and lived a quiet, secluded life under the radar. Yet the demons that nearly destroyed him never completely disappeared.

When Jay heads out west to help his grieving brother, he is pulled back into Charlie's past—and begins to suspect that his nephew's suicide may not have been that at all. With eyes wide open, Jay puts his own life at risk to uncover the truth, a quest that goes beyond the edge of madness and a family haunted by a secret past . . . and into the depths of evil.

Drawing on two real-life experiences from his own past, Gross has crafted a richly personal, yet utterly terrifying tale of two brothers, one successful, one wayward, trying to bridge the gap of what tore them apart.

I was fortunate to receive a free ARC copy of this book.
This is one of those books that will catch your attention and not let go until the last line. One of those books that will still be in your hands long past bedtime. It is a complex storyline, with all the expected twists (and then some) and with a sinister backdrop that will chill you as you turn the pages.

The characters are very interesting. The way the author handles the bipolar and schizophrenic Evan, Charlie and Gabby shows how comfortable he is with his creations. Their dialogue feels natural and even their delusions have a steady core of truth. There is no melodrama here. Jay, the main character, provides a lucid wall for them to bounce against as he tries to discover just what happened to Evan, his nephew. The villain, a Manson-like cult leader, has that charm and coldness that rings real enough to frighten the reader. I will not be forgetting him any time soon.

When it comes to the plot, I could tell how carefully planned it had been. Most of the pieces fit together perfectly, propelling the reader down through secrets that were kept hidden for too long. There are a couple of plot points that weren't completely resolved, and which left me wondering. They were not extremely important and could have easily been cut out, which make me question why they weren't. But don't let that put you off, this is a book to read.

I can highly recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers, mysteries, or just a well-crafted novel. Just don't be surprised if you can't look at a dollar bill quite the same ever again.

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