Nora Watts is a missing person’s specialist who prefers to stay in the shadows, but when she meets the parents of a missing girl - a girl who turns out to be the daughter Nora sent for adoption fifteen years earlier - Nora finds her past is pursuing her with a vengeance. Why is a high-powered security firm so interested in her missing daughter's adoptive parents? Why has a dangerous nightmare from Nora's past appeared at Nora's place of work, intent on trying to find her? Why is Nora being followed, and why has a journalist who's been trying to get in touch with Nora suddenly turned up dead, a very unlikely suicide? So many clues, but what - if anything - ties them all together? And will Nora eventually find the daughter she has never met?
The PR for Eyes Like Mine touts Nora Watts as the new Lisbeth Salander. It's not a fair comparison and certainly doesn't do Eyes Like Mine any favours because, although that kind of hype always looks good on the cover, people expecting a story that's in the same league as Stieg Larsson's excellent Millennium trilogy will be disappointed. If we hadn’t gone into Eyes Like Mine hoping for another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and instead approached Nora Watts as this year’s version of a supposedly edgy heroine-detective, we might have enjoyed the novel more. As it was, we kept turning the pages wishing we were re-reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo instead.
That being said, the novel does take some rapid twists and turns and really lays on the noirish atmosphere in spades. Kamal knows the rules of her genre very well, and the storyline hits all the beats. In the end, though, it feels less like a thriller and more like a juggling-act of a character study, with everything that happens calculated to reveal yet another aspect of Nora’s past or personality. That would work if Nora Watts was a character we’re intrigued by (like Lisbeth Salander) but she just isn’t that interesting. In fact, Eyes Like Mine is a bit like painting-by-numbers. We add a bit of grey here and a bit of white there, hoping that despite the mundanity of it all the picture will eventually reveal itself to be something that was worth our time. Unfortunately, Eyes Like Mine just ends as it began – well-written and workmanlike, but a bit of a wasted journey.
EYES LIKE MINE / AUTHOR: SHEENA KAMAL / PUBLISHER: ZAFFRE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW