Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel is obsessed with the disappearance of 12-year-old Edie Evans, who went missing more than a year earlier while riding her bike, but Marvel’s boss, the superintendent, wants the detective to look for a poodle belonging to the superintendent’s wife.
James and Anna Buck’s son, four-year-old Daniel, is also missing, and Anna’s grip on reality has been slipping in the months since he disappeared. She seeks out a so-called psychic named Richard Latham, but soon after, Anna thinks she’s having visions herself.
Though chapters in The Shut Eye (a term meaning psychic) are from different points of view and at first seem to be telling separate stories, Belinda Bauer eventually weaves the threads together while keeping readers guessing all the way. As with her previous US release, Rubbernecker, Bauer excels in developing her characters, giving each a distinct and believable voice, whether it’s a grieving mother with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a gruff detective, a black lesbian female police officer (the “Holy Grail of Equal Opportunities”), or a Hmong immigrant.
Bauer can also write from a child’s view as convincingly as an adult’s. Her prose is tight, conveying wonder and heart-gripping emotions without verbosity. In barely 300 pages, she manages to pack in social commentary, cultural insight, and dry humor, along with the suspense of a police procedural and perhaps even the supernatural, depending on how readers interpret certain revelations. Crime-fiction fans can expect little shut-eye after picking up this thriller.
This originally appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.