Eyes Wide Open - Andrew Gross
Jay Erlich is a physician with a loving wife and two successful kids; his brother Charlie, however, is a mentally disturbed former hippie and a ward of the state. When Charlie’s son and Jays’ nephew, Evan, seemingly commits suicide, Jay flies out to California to help out his brother. Charlie insists Evan could not have jumped to his death; as Jay looks into his Nephew’s death, he realizes Charlie may in fact be right.

Eyes Wide Open is a bit uneven, with the first third of the novel essentially serving as a cathartic experience for the author following a similar family tragedy. Jay spends these initial chapters uncovering a series of mistakes by Evan’s caregivers that led to a mentally disturbed young man being released early and allowed to go for a walk on his own. Most of the novel, however, is devoted to a part of Charlie’s past that may be coming back to haunt him. While Jay focused on his education, Charlie became a vagrant musician and child of the sixties, eventually settling on a ranch led by a Charles Manson-like figure. Although Charlie evidently had nothing to do with the gruesome murders, it seems former followers may be tormenting him, starting with Evan’s death.

There is a good story here, but it is unfortunately hampered by the writing. Gross falls into the common thriller trope. Sentence fragments are suspenseful. And jerky. They build tension. Annoy readers.

Important points should also be set aside for emphasis.

The author also feels the need to reiterate important facts repeatedly throughout the story, as though the reader is incapable of keeping track of them on her own. There are also redundant portions of redundancy, such as when a sheriff character learns of an important discovery about a suspect; this character then proceeds to repeat the details to Jay about two chapters later almost word for word. Such repetition is unnecessary and often holds the story back.

Eyes Wide Open is a different kind of thriller and can be very good at times, but the awkward writing leads to a limited recommendation.

A review copy provided through the Librarything Early Reviewers program.