The Raven's Eye: A Brock and Kolla Mystery
by Barry Maitland
Cover Artist: Trevillian Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250054678
Date: 11 November 2014 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A young woman, Vicky Hawke, is found dead inside her longboat in London's Regent's Canal. She is a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. Is Vicky's death an accident, suicide, or a cleverly disguised murder? DI Kathy Kolla and her boss DCI David Brock of the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) investigate and learn that Vicky's sister, Freya Kite, also died under mysterious circumstances. Soon the two detectives uncover a conspiracy involving two security companies developing innovative surveillance equipment and a medical clinic performing unethical operations.
Barry Maitland's impressive thriller, The Raven's Eye, is unforgettable. It combines plausible, cutting-edge technology with police and medical procedures. Its implications concerning future technology frightened and intrigued me. Sometimes I felt as though I was reading one of Robin Cook's medical thrillers and at other times I felt I was reading one of Michael Crichton's techno thrillers. One of the novel's eccentric characters, Ned Tisdell, quotes verses from the prophetic book of Revelation. After reading, The Raven's Eye, it became apparent to me how an evil world leader could keep a close eye on his many subjects.
DI Kathy Kolla suffers a tremendous amount of physical abuse. After surviving an explosion, she is used as bait to catch a vicious serial killer, Jack Bragg, who is known as the Butcher. He likes to cut up his enemies into numerous parts. The Butcher victimizes Kathy on numerous occasions, especially at a hospital; this is reminiscent of several horror films involving attractive women who are menaced at hospitals. Kathy undergoes surgery and, despite orders to remain on sick leave, she continues to investigate even though one of her arms is in a sling. I must admire her courage as she risks being permanently maimed in order to find justice for two murdered sisters.
Meanwhile, DCI David Brock risks losing his job as he confronts crooked members of the Met who are involved in top secret surveillance projects. Some people will do anything for a promotion; they will lie, cheat, steal, and even kill. Novels like The Raven's Eye make readers lose their faith in the police force's ability to protect its citizens. Thankfully, the novel ends on a pleasant note. For a few intense moments, I feared that justice wouldn't be served.
The Raven's Eye introduces readers to an entire world of longboaters who live and work in London among its canals. They comprise a tightknit community that chooses to dwell inside narrow, cramped boats. Vicky Hawke's neighbors are all longboaters and fall under suspicion of her murder. Some longboaters can be considered eccentric and are fleeing or hiding from the problems of everyday life. One neighbor in particular creates another explosive situation in a storyline that has already seen quite a few of them. Longboating is definitely not for me, especially since I live in Tidewater, Virginia, which is prone for hurricanes.
Reading a Barry Maitland novel (Chelsea Mansions) is like reading nonfiction; therefore, I would put Maitland in the same category as other excellent British authors such as Peter James ( Not Dead Yet) and Jim Kelly (Nightrise). The Raven's Eye is guaranteed to entertain the most discriminating fans of mysteries. It successfully combines several genres into a hardboiled British noir that makes it very fast paced. The cutting edge technology presented is terrifying in its plausibility. The future that many of us have dreaded, a future where we are all closely monitored and watched, is almost upon us. Without the world leader's approval, none of us will be able to buy or sell; none of us will be able to escape, because he will find us with his raven's eye.