In my world you are either a fiction or non-fiction reader. I used to share a room with my brother and the two sides would reflect our view. His shelves would have books containing cross sections of boats or statistics of football players, whilst my side would be burdened with science fiction and teen horror. It was like a tale of two cities - but without the romantic subplot. I still don't rate nonfiction to this day finding tedious to the core; even fiction based on fact can be a little dull for my liking. However, there is no denying that these non-fiction writers know the ins and outs of their subject of choice. True Crime writers can often be the first people to revisit a cold case or injustice, and find the truth. How about a compromise between the lovers of fiction and nonfiction? A fiction book that stars a nonfiction writer as its protagonist?
Frank Corso is a former journalist turned true crime writer. He knew that his paper days were behind him when he was jailed for writing false stories. Even with his reputation in tatters his nose for a good story still exists; if only he could stay out of trouble. However, it is trouble that he finds himself on the lamb from the police who are looking for him over some evidence he can provide. Rather than come forward Corso decides to hideout in a remote spot until the warrant expires. Unfortunately, he is soon embroiled in a search for a missing serial killer when he stumbles across the bodies of a family. Can Corso solve a crime whilst looking after his own skin?
There is a lot of average crime fiction around that is fun enough to read, but in no way adds to the genre or stands out. 'A Blind Eye' is exactly this type of book as its short length means that it can be finished within a couple of days and passes the time. The problem is that so many of the elements of the book come out of the cliché crime noir bible; the grizzled lead, the sexual tension, the duck out of water, and the wisecracking attitude. This is not really a bad thing as these ingredients have worked well for many authors and sold millions of novels - but is it enough to bother reading another book?
On the positive side 'Blind' is a solid murder mystery. The opening segment hides what becomes a fun chase across America as Corso uncovers more information about a killer the cops didn't even know existed. I also liked the relationship that Corso had with Daugherty, his photographer and former lover. G.M. Ford is able to give the two characters enough sexual tension so that their relationship pings. It is their conversational sparring that gets you through some of the weaker sections of the book as you wait for something to actually happen. Finally, I also like the fact that the lead character is a true crime writer. It can be difficult for an author to come up with a different angle in which to attack the crime genre, many of them end up using random vocations as jump offs - crime solving gardeners or mystery bin men? It makes sense that a crime writer would become embroiled in a cold case.
However, where would their interest end? I don't know many writers, but I bet that most would give up on a story after their first warning; never mind a beating. Is it worth risking life and limb for a book that will probably end up in a garage forecourt anyway? Corso as a character is just slightly too surreal. He seems to know too many people in the intelligence world and although his attitude comes across as a bit of a chubby loser, Ford has him as a brick house that can hold himself in a fight. I found the connection between what he looked like and his personality just did not gel. This went for Daugherty too. She is painted as a no nonsense strong woman, but crumbles within seconds on occasion.
The other issue with the book is the fact that it has a few too many cannon fodder moments. Cliché crime fiction can suffer from the hero escaping by the skin of their teeth only for a luckless loser to take the bullet instead. This happens in 'Blind' too often to be funny and makes the book cheesier than it should have been. This is a shame as the actual crime story elements are strong and the mystery unravels at a nice pace leading to a fun finale. Overall, 'A Blind Eye' was a fun and silly crime thriller that was written to entertain, but not exercise the brain. The interesting crime story is undermined by cartoonish characters and Ford's incessant need to dangle Corso and Daugherty in the mouth of danger. This is a book that crime fans would absorb and enjoy in a matter of days, for other readers start off on better crime novelists such as Michael Connelly or Don Winslow.
Author: G M Ford
Price: amazon uk - £0.38p (2nd hand)
play.com - £2.09 (2nd hand)