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Tuesday, 27 July 2021

‘Close Your Eyes’ by Rachel Abbott

Published by Black Dot,
11 February 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-9999437-4-5  (PB)

The wife of an up and coming software company has been murdered, and super-efficient office manager Martha Porter has disappeared. On the face of it, it’s an open and shut case for DCI Tom Douglas: track down Porter, find out what she’s been up to, and home in time for tea with wife Louisa and new baby Harry.  

But Tom is all too well aware that nothing is ever that simple, and as he digs deeper into the background of the company and tries in vain to find some information about Martha Porter, he starts to realize just how tangled a web he is caught up in.

Soon there are more questions than answers. Why does company boss Niall Strachan leave the office down a secret back staircase? Why does employee Elise Chapman hate Martha Porter enough to post heavy hints about her guilt on social media? Why did Genevieve, the murdered woman, make contact with her footballer ex-boyfriend? And most important of all, who exactly is the elusive Martha Porter, and what is she hiding?

As Tom Douglas and his team search for Martha Porter, some of the answers emerge through a second story strand which goes back almost twenty years. A big lottery win, a remote house and a mysterious stranger with mesmeric eyes are all thrown into the mix, and after a while the reader has a much clearer idea of why Martha is on the run, though Tom Douglas’s team take a little longer to work it out.

Rachel Abbott has created a meaty and tightly woven plot with a surprise round every corner. But Close Your Eyes is much more than that. This talented author’s many fans will already be well acquainted with Tom Douglas’s complicated home life, and also with Becky Robinson, his loyal DI, both of whom feel as if their lives continue well beyond the confines of the books. Abbott is also a past master at taking an important issue and weaving a gripping story around it, and that’s what she does here. Above all, her bad guys are very bad indeed, but no less believable for that.

She’s also a dab hand with minor characters, all of who spring off the page fully formed and don’t seem minor at all in context. Nicola and Joel in the remote country house; the appalling Elise Chapman in the software company’s office; even Kirsten, the footballer ex’s new partner, and a host of others as well: I felt I would recognize them all if they walked in off the street. And then there’s Aram, who no one with any sense wants to recognize.

The Tom Douglas series gets better and better, and Close Your Eyes is the best addition yet. Long may he continue to seek out the bad guys on the mean streets of Manchester and beyond!

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England.  
 She became a systems analyst at the age of 21 in the early 1970s and formed her own software company in the mid-1980s designing computer programmes for education.   The company expanded into all forms of interactive media and became extremely successful. The sale of the company in 2000 enabled her to take early retirement and fulfil one of her lifelong ambitions - to buy and restore a property in Italy.  Once there she completely restored a ruined monastery and started a second successful business renting it out for weddings and conferences. In 2010 she embarked on her third career and wrote her first book Only the Innocent.

Lynne Patrick  has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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