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Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
St. Martin's Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250033895
Date: 09 July 2013 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Author Video discussing book / Show Official Info /

British author Geniver Loxley was told that her unborn baby, Beth, was dead. An emergency C-section was performed and it was taken away without her ever seeing its deformed body. Unable to write another novel, Geniver suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Eight years later, Lucy O'Donnell, the sister of the nurse who was present at Geniver's C-section, appears on the doorstep of Geniver's posh North London home. She claims that Beth is still alive.

The gynecologist, Dr. Rodriguez, and other staff members were involved in a conspiracy to steal Geniver's baby. Worst of all, Geniver's wealthy, power-driven husband, Art, was a willing participant. With the help of a handsome Irishman, Lorcan Byrne, Geniver searches for Beth. She discovers that everyone involved in the C-section is either missing or dead. As the body count climbs, Geniver learns she can't trust anyone, not even herself.

Sophie McKenzie's Close My Eyes is an excellent psychological thriller that greatly disturbed me. I kept asking myself, "How many times has this happened in real life? How many pregnant women have been told their babies were delivered dead when they were actually still alive?" Imagine this scenario: A wealthy couple wants a newborn baby; they simply pay a large amount of money to an amoral doctor to steal an impoverished woman's baby and tell her it was stillborn. Robin Cook's bestseller, Coma, brought to light the plausibility of patients having their organs stolen when they go to the hospital for routine surgical operations. Thanks to McKenzie, pregnant women now have a good reason to fear going to the hospital.

Close My Eyes does not contain a great deal of police or medical procedures. Our heroine, Geniver Loxley, is a part-time creative writing instructor who is neither a detective nor a physician. The police won't help her. Most of her friends think she is mentally ill. Only the handsome stranger she meets at her husband's birthday party, Lorcan, agrees to assist her.

Lorcan once worked at Loxley Benson, her husband's highly successful computer software company. Because of a scandal, he is now the company pariah. Both Geniver and Lorcan are looked upon as damaged goods. It is no wonder they are drawn to each other.

Geniver is a likeable heroine; she is persistent. I believe she always sensed that her C-section was performed under strange circumstances. Mothers always share a psychic link with their children; they can sense when something is amiss with them. Because she sensed that her baby was still alive, Geniver couldn't conceive naturally or artificially.

Honestly, half-way through the novel, I suspected who was in possession of Geniver's baby. However, what I didn't know is why this person abducted it. The truth made me want to gag.

Geniver experiences quite a few shocks as she journeys closer to the ever-elusive truth. Dead bodies kept the novel moving at a brisk clip. There is also a lot of human, soap opera-like drama. McKenzie is superb at giving her numerous characters emotional depth, providing them with detailed backgrounds, and making them appear to be genuine people, albeit rich, troubled ones. I only wish the novel hadn't been written in the first person with Geniver as the narrator. Without her narration, I wouldn't have known whether or not she survived the plot. Sometimes main characters die at the end of novels. Readers don't like that, but it happens in real life. It always makes for a depressing, more downbeat ending. However, throughout the novel, there are snippets of someone else providing narration. At the end, the reader learns that more violence may continue. The author cleverly provides the reader with some chills that will remain with them long after the book is closed.

Sophie McKenzie's Close My Eyes is highly recommended for those who enjoy plausible psychological thrillers, especially those written by British authors. It reminds me very much of Diane Janes's Why Didn't You Come for Me? in which a British woman, Jo, is still haunted by the abduction of her baby daughter, Lauren, twelve years earlier.

Close My Eyes shouldn't be read by a pregnant woman before going to the hospital to give birth just like Peter Benchley's Jaws shouldn't be read by vacationers before going to the beach to swim. I'm hoping that McKenzie, who primarily writes YA novels, will continue writing novels for adults along the same lines as Close My Eyes.

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