Bonnie Brody's Reviews > Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross
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Feb 28, 12

Read in June, 2011

I was drawn to this book because of its described theme - a mystery dealing with a cult-like group in the 1960's very much like the Manson Family. The book turned out to be a quintessential thriller and page-turner, just right for the beach or the plane. While repetitive in parts, it held my interest and was a good read.

The novel is about Jay Erlich, a successful Westchester doctor who finds out that his bi-polar nephew, Evan, has taken his own life. Jay flies out to California to be with his brother Charlie and his sister-in-law Gabby in order to provide them with emotional support. Shortly after his arrival, he begins to have suspicions that Evan did not commit suicide but was murdered. The murder draws Jay in and as he investigates further and further, he realizes that it has to do with the Houvnanian cult with which his brother hung out for a while during his youth.

Like his son Evan, Charlie is bi-polar and has never had much in life. He and his wife Gabby live in relative squalor with occasional financial help from Jay. They live pretty much off the radar as well. As Jay pieces together the puzzle of Evan's death, it all leads back to Houvnanian and other members of his cult. Along with help from the police, Jay is determined to find out what really happened to Evan and to the string of murders that follow in his wake and all seem to be connected.

This novel is a quick read and has a lot of good information about bi-polar disease and serious mental illness. The parts about hallucinations and delusions were quite realistic and the author appears to really know his stuff in this area. As a clinical social worker, I was impressed at his knowledge. The book is relatively hardcore and there are some painfully realistic scenes that are horrific. I enjoy hardcore thrillers so it was no problem for me but be advised - if you're not a fan of this genre, this book will likely not work for you. This is a book that you can read in a couple of days. It is not likely a novel you will remember for your whole life but it is one that you will enjoy reading and the time you spend on it will be entertaining. (3.5)
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