Michael's Reviews > He Died With His Eyes Open

He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond
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Nov 23, 12

bookshelves: crime, hard-boiled, pulp, police-procedural, british-literature, 1980s
Read from August 31 to September 12, 2012

Armed with a box of tapes as evidence, the detective Sergeant sets out to solve the brutal murder of a middle-aged alcoholic who was found dumped on the city outskirts. Murder is a dime a dozen in London and Scotland Yard has more serious cases to deal with. This rogue detective is haunted by the voices on these cassette diaries which leaves him with no choice by to find out why He Died With His Eyes Open.

Book One of the Factory series follows the unnamed Detective Sergeant in his quest to solve the crime of someone the rest of the city does not care about. Part police procedural, part noir, Derek Raymond has a refreshingly new take on the pulp genre. Not only the fact that it combines procedural crime to the plot or the fact that it’s set in London, but what stood out to me is that Raymond mixed the dark hard hitting hard boiled protagonist and gave him compassion. You don’t actually see the compassion by his actions; this detective feels as hard boiled as they come, yet he seems to care about solving the crime of someone that doesn’t really matter. This is what made He Died With His Eyes Open so great.

I feel like Derek Raymond should be compared to noir legend Jim Thompson, mixing the dark and gritty with a real psychological aspect. While at times Raymond’s writing is a bit sloppy and the plot isn’t as tight as the greats, there is something quite spectacular about this novel. It feels like a normal pulp novel, but there is also something refreshingly different about this novel.

The unnamed protagonist is such a strong character, full of mystery and tough as nails. He Died With His Eyes Open is an absolute must read for pulp fans, and I must admit I’m so glad to read a crime novel like this that is not set in America. The English slang and terminology throughout this book was a joy to read. I like to see new spins in the pulp genre when they are done remarkably well, and this novel does just that. Everything you want in a deliciously dark pulp novel plus so many extras; He Died With His Eyes Open is worth getting your hands on.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2012/...
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Reading Progress

09/05/2012 page 50
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Comments (showing 1-39 of 39) (39 new)

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Tfitoby Finally!


Michael I know right


Tfitoby You had better enjoy this, my reputation depends on it


Michael THAT reputation !


message 5: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki WHAT reputation?


message 6: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki Seriously. You have a reputation? Where can I get one?


Michael It's not a good one :P


message 8: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki I hear he reads books naked while young girls cook for him. Or is that some other guy?


Tfitoby Melki wrote: "I hear he reads books naked while young girls cook for him. Or is that some other guy?"

lmao it's defintely not me. i wish that were true. im a house husband these days. if foods getting made im the one doing it. and not naked, hot food on naked skin is bad.


Michael How else are you suppose to write!? And who is the writer


Tfitoby Michael wrote: "How else are you suppose to write!? And who is the writer"

Craig Silvey


Michael I really need to read one of his books


message 13: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki No you don't. Tell him, Toby.


Michael I've got Jasper Jones on a device Toby doesn't want to hear about. Also I want to read The Amber Amulet


Tfitoby wait let me find your "review"....

don't do it melki. this guy writes naked whilst teenage girls cooks for him under the guise of being mentored!
also he hates it when we refer to him as quaint and twee and other such things when we sell his books secondhand


also Rhubarb was horrible, try hard pretentious literature that i had to bail on quite early before Leah lasted an extra chapter and we consigned it to a secondhand bookstore, which was the highlight as he really really dislikes people buying his books secondhand.


Tfitoby satisfied Melki?


Michael Interesting. I need books to flame on my blog :P


Need to offset my average rating


message 18: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki Well, I figured since I got a lecture, everyone else should get one too.


Tfitoby Michael wrote: "Interesting. I need books to flame on my blog :P


Need to offset my average rating"


I will qualify this as not just my opinion, I find his books disagreeable. Infact aside from my former colleague who moved to WA to be "mentored" by him I haven't met anyone who has legitimately enjoyed his books for their literary merit. Plus he has the dubious pleasure of being 1 of 2 authors I can dislike as person as well as an author based on actual meetings.


Michael I wonder why Jasper Jones seems so popular?


Tfitoby Michael wrote: "I wonder why Jasper Jones seems so popular?"

My experience in the book sales trade alone says, at the risk of offending, it seems to be a case of needing a tall poppy combined with the desire of wannabe "yummy" middle aged women to read "hip" new things that are "just gorgeous" about precocious yet mentally challenged boys written for the young adult market but masquerading as adult fiction, hence an easy read and destined to be adapted by channel ten.


message 22: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki Not that you're bitter, or anything...


Tfitoby Melki wrote: "Not that you're bitter, or anything..."

:D bitter? me? only about the nakedness and the young girls. naturally.


Michael Sounds about right. All the goodreads friends that have read and enjoyed it are women. So why does that mean a printz award? Or is that a case of American YA lit awards just going for the popular books


Tfitoby I had to google that award, its interesting. Two of the 2012 winners were published in 2009. That alone makes my "hype" spidey sense tingle.

The other two are Lemony Snickets alterego and Maggie Steifvater who probably win without trying at this stage of their careers.

I take back my criticisms a little, as a book for young teens Rhubarb isn't quite so bad and my judgement on YA is that most of it is and should be unreadable to those of us over 21 and of sound mind - which probably makes my opinion worthless to most people.


Michael I think the winner is the best book of that year and the honor is the over hyped book. It's not an award I would consider paying much attention to. They are just over hyped books, but I guess John Green demands the hype


Tfitoby hey you finished this book. you gonna leave us in suspense much longer?


Michael I've not read it yet, only read 11 pages


Tfitoby oh. another GR error/glitch.


Michael Yes it glitched out on me


message 31: by Melki (new) - added it

Melki Craig Silvey's revenge.


Michael He should be seeking out Toby


Tfitoby he knows where to find me


Michael Waiting for a brick through the wind?


Tfitoby he can perform a hate crime on secondhand bookshops i'm sure.


Michael Those poor books D:


Tfitoby Hot damn! 4 Stars. Glad you liked it.


Michael It was a great book, I need to read the next one sometime


Tfitoby you do. very much so. i didn't enjoy it as much as this one but it's still impressive.


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