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Brief Reviews
by Jeremy Lott

The epigraph to this book serves fair notice that what follows will be not be easy sledding. G.M. Ford (yes, that is his real name) quotes British novelist G.K. Chesterton saying that while "children are innocent and love justice," most of us are "wicked and prefer mercy."
Hear, hear: A Blind Eye opens with true crime writer Frank Corso running from Texas rangers with an ominous subpoena. They want to drag him in to question before a grand jury in connection with a book-selling boast that he knew where a body was buried. The truth is, Corso only knew a guy who knew where the body was buried, and the gentleman who knew has pulled a runner. To avoid a long jail sentence and possible financial ruin, Corso must avoid Texas' finest until the grand jury expires in a little over a week. He has tricked his photographer and former lover, the six-foot-tall tattooed goth Amazon, Meg Dougherty, into coming along for the high speed chase.
The pursuit takes them to the outskirts of an isolated Illinois town in the middle of the mother of all blizzards. Their rented SUV crashes and the two narrowly escape death by struggling into an old abandoned cabin. In the process of cannibalizing the floor of a nearby shack for firewood, they discover the bodies of the previous inhabitants, sealed in plastic bags. Because of re-election problems, the local sheriff promises to give the Texas Rangers the slip if, and only if, Corso agrees to get to the bottom of this.
It's an offer they can't refuse, but they soon find that the devil cuts less exacting deals. The search for the family's killer takes Corso and Dougherty to a soon-to-be-abandoned convent, where they learn of a mad sex-crazed girl with a cloudy past and an equally murky, violent future. They continue to follow her bloody footprints through the shadier parts of the Northeast. The more they learn, the worse the picture looks, including backwoods incest, mass murder, and the complete indifference of law enforcement to all of the above.
As the third novel in a mystery series, A Blind Eye is a bit of a let down. It's not just that the book feels like it was rushed or that the set up is too neat (e.g., Corso is on the run because he can't find a dead body, and¨lo!¨he stumbles onto a bunch of dead bodies). In order for bleak books to work, there has to be somebody for the reader to pull for. But neither Corso, nor the often bitchy Dougherty, nor any of the other characters they bump into for that matter, fit that bill, leaving us with a lot of gratuitous violence (which, I admit, can be fun) with little context for understanding it.
The book does have its moments. I particularly liked the gag, at Seattleites Corso and Dogherty's expense, about not being able to get a double tall latte at a back country diner; and the pacing and writing are at least a couple of notches above most mystery novels. In fact, one tack that Ford tries is to explore the mystery of Corso himself. Unlike Ford's previous series of first person Leo Watterman mysteries, this group of novels is told at a remove. The details of Corso's past life trickle out only grudgingly, from one volume to the next. It's a cheap trick but it works: This installment left me curious enough to come back for the next book in the series. ˛

Jeremy Lott writes the weekly "Latte Sipping" column for The American Spectator's website.

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