I was sent Eyes Like Mine on Friday morning and was struck by its beautiful cover. By Friday night, I’d finished it. Regular readers of the blog will know how much I love translated crime fiction but I’m also a fan of the American PI genre. I read Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller and Sara Paretsky in my late teens and I absolutely loved them. Eyes Like Mine is isn’t an American PI book. It’s written by a Canadian debut novelist, Sheena Kamal, and is set in and around Vancouver. Neither is the protagonist, Nora Watts, a private investigator. Rather she works for a PI company doing research and acting as a personal assistant. However, there’s a feel to this book of the early Paretskys and Graftons and I absolutely loved it.
Nora March was subjected to a brutal rape fifteen years earlier and gave up the child, Bonnie, for adoption. However Bonnie’s adopted parents track her down to say the girl had been looking for her real parents and has now gone missing. Drawn into the lives of the family, Nora discovers it’s not as simple as a teenager who has gone off the rails but some serious security employees are also searching for the girl for reasons which are unclear.
Written in the first person, the reader engages with Nora from the outset although her story is only revealed in increments. The sticker on the front of the book compares her to Lisbeth Salander which I can understand but I feel sells the character short. Kamal has come up with an unusual and engaging character that is uniquely her own. Nora carries a plot which could veer into unbelievably with panache and there’s a page-turning thrilling element to the narrative.
The pace ramps up considerably towards the latter part of the book but, for a debut writer, Kamal steers clear of neat or soppy endings. There’s plenty of mileage left in Nora and it’s good to hear that a sequel is in the offing. This could be my book of the year and it’s only January.
Eyes Like Mine is out on the 9th February.