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Review of "Blind Eye" by Jan Coffey

In a world of stark white walls, Blind Eye is the literary equivalent of that ugly 70′s era wallpaper–busy and unfocused. It seems as the writing team known as Jan Coffey had a few to many ideas for this book, so they put them all in one hat, pulling out random ideas until they came up with a plot. I can see the reveal now: nuclear disaster (ooh), twins with ESP (ahh), literal corporate head hunting (ooh), strangest long distance romance ever (ahh), doctor that falls for his almost comatose patient (ooh…um, who put that one in there?)

I had a few problems with this book, which was disappointing because I used to really like Jan Coffey thrillers. I remember the first time I saw one of their books at Costco (shut up.), and thinking this looks so cool, so I had my dad buy it for me. I devoured that book in a week. The second book I bought was similar in its “can’t put down”-ness with the plus that it was about the type of thing that I was thinking of studying. From there it went downhill. The next book I picked up was one of their older books–it was nothing like the other two, and at times I thought I was reading a Stef Ann Holm novel instead. Next I picked up, The Deadliest Strain, which was also about something I was interested in. Unfortunately, that book was the worst of the lot. The pacing sucked, whenever the main characters entered the canvass, the plot became so slow that if it was a person it would be the little old lady with the hip replacement.

Blind Eye wasn’t that bad, but the fact that I didn’t care enough about what was happening that it took me almost a full month to read a 406 page book when I have read more than twice that in a week, tells me that this isn’t the spine-tingling thriller that Coffey would like it to be. The book starts out with the murder of Fred Adrian, part of the team that was responsible for WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plan), and someone that needed to be “removed” in order to kill the project. Next, we meet Marion Kagan, a graduate student from UC Davis that is part of a research team working in an underground research lab (which we later find out is WIPP), when a bunch of gunmen storm the lab killing everyone else and shooting Marion in the head. Meanwhile, at the same time in Connecticut, a woman named JD (for Jane Doe) starts having convulsions and needs to be sedated. Next, is Mark Shaw, who recently got back from Iraq (or maybe it was Afghanistan–I don’t care enough to check), and isn’t sure about what he wants to do now that he’s home. Mark is watching the news, when he sees Marion’s picture flash across the screen. He can’t believe the woman that he spent less than a day with at Logan International Airport is dead. He had meant to call her when he got back to the states, but he kept putting it off, and now she was dead. Soon, we return to JD, who in the 6 years since she has been in the Waterbury long term care facility, has never had an episode like she did at the exact moment that Marion was getting shot in the head. Her head nurse, Jennifer Sullivan, is worried about her, and convinces the new facility doctor to consider changing JD’s medications or trying something new. This doctor eventually asks a neurologist named Sid, who is doing a study in which he uses some advanced equipment to record images of what is going on in MCS (minimally conscious state) patients’ brains. Because JD presumably has no family, they have no problem enrolling her in the study. Almost immediately after being hooked up the the machine, JD “sends” them the image of a phone number–which turns out to be Mark Shaw’s cell phone number. After some hemming and hawing, Mark agrees to come to the facility, and identifies JD as Amelia Kagan, Marion’s twin sister, who disappeared 8 years earlier, long before he met Marion and gave her his phone number. Obviously, Marion couldn’t have given Amelia his number, or could she? Both Mark and Sid believe that she could and did–through the twin connection. This also leads them to believe that Marion might still be alive, especially when Amelia starts giving them the details of WIPP–details that came straight from the manual that Marion was reading, trying to figure out how to get out of the facility in time to get help to stop a nuclear disaster. When the gunmen turned off the power, radiation began to leak into the facility, and there was only a matter of about 42 hours until the radiation reached outside the facility to the rest of New Mexico. After Amelia wakes up (after 6 years!), Mark decides to go to New Mexico and try to get to Marion, who he is convinced is still alive.

Somehow, the villain of the piece, knew about Amelia when nobody else did, and is trying to have her killed too. Before Mark left for New Mexico (and before Amelia had come out of the minimally conscious state) someone attempted to poison Amelia. Luckily, Mark was able to stop the nurse from administering the drug long enough for Sid to come back from his shower and explain to the nurse that there was no new medication for Amelia. When this doesn’t work, the bad guy arranges for her to be kidnapped–not realizes that wherever she went Sid had to go too–there was a strange attraction there. Because of this, they are able to escape.

There is another subplot about Fred Adrian’s wife and daughter. It seems the day before he was murdered, he sent a package to his daughter Cynthia. In the package was everything anyone needed to know about WIPP. For this, the bad guys cause her to get into a car accident. When they don’t find the papers on her, they end up killing her mother, Helen, who though drunk at the time, managed to find and hide the 1 piece of paper with the name of the guy in charge’s name.

In the end, Mark saves Marion and Sid falls in love with Amelia, who seems to reciprocate.

What bothers me about this book was that it was all over the place. One minute, we’re in New Mexico, next we’re in Connecticut, and then we’re in San Diego–all within the span of 10 pages. I get it, they were trying to go for fast paced, but it ended up seeming unfocused, and sometimes the transition was jarring. Another problem, I had with this book was that Mark and Marion met once, despite which Marion assumes that he will find her. Seriously? Don’t you have that one guy friend that after one meeting will come to your rescue? No? Me neither. Problem number 3 was how much they relied on the twin connection (At one point, Mark asks Sid to have Amelia tell Marion to call him–and not 5 pages later, Marion sends him a text message.) I do believe that twins may have a connection, but I have never heard of any twins that could communicate the way these 2 could.

Overall, I would give this book a C-. At least, now I know I won’t be spending any more of my money on Jan Coffey books.

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