Eye Contact by Fergus McNeill
I usually keep my small crime novel selections to Scandinavian authors as I love the bleakness of the setting. However, I met Fergus McNeill at the New Books Magazine Readers Day in 2013. Fergus’ interview was not only interesting but his path to writing a novel is most aspiring writers’ dream (chipping away at it in a creative writing class, if you were interested).
Robert Naysmith is a killer who randomly selects his victims. He plays a timed game with himself: the first person to make eye contact with him is the target. DI Harland is drawn into one of the murder investigations, not realising the scale of the murders. Still struggling to overcome tragedy in his personal life, can he keep his personal and professional lives separate long enough to find a killer who strikes without motive or pattern?
First Impressions: I wish I did not begin this book at 10.30pm on a Sunday night. I found it incredibly addictive and had to force myself to put it down and turn my light off so I wouldn’t be too tired the next day at work!
Highlights: I love great settings in crime novels. Fergus walked all of his locations while drafting the novel and his intimate knowledge of each place showed. He pulled off the descriptions and detail successfully without it sounding like a list of notes. The story flips between the two main characters seamlessly and the showdown between the two is well handled and not predictable. I could not guess the ending either.
If I was an editor: I would commend Fergus for creating interesting characters in a crowded genre. DI Harland was not a stereotype either, despite being an experienced cop battling his own demons. I did think that the descriptions of Naysmith’s stalking became a little repetitive towards the end. Furthermore, Naysmith’s one error did seem a little foolish for such an intelligent killer but I can forgive this as it was an unexpected and tense moment in the novel.
Overall: A really enjoyable read that kept me guessing until the end. I like how it set up the next book in the series, Knife Edge. An excellent debut!
Eye Contact: 4 stars