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The Shut Eye

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Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

Yesterday they were a family just like any other: Anna and James, and their little boy, Daniel.

But in one careless moment everything changed.

A front door accidentally left ajar . . . and Daniel was gone.

Now they are a pair of strangers who can't even look each other in the eye.

Distrust and unspoken words fill the void where their son used to be.

Anna will go to any lengths to find Daniel - a four-year-old doesn't just vanish into thin air. But how far will this desperate search push her?

Right to the brink.

And beyond.

318 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 12, 2015

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About the author

Belinda Bauer

22 books1,760 followers
Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa. She has worked as a journalist and screenwriter, and her script THE LOCKER ROOM earned her the Carl Foreman/Bafta Award for Young British Screenwriters, an award that was presented to her by Sidney Poitier. She was a runner-up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for "Mysterious Ways," about a girl stranded on a desert island with 30,000 Bibles. Belinda now lives in Wales.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 523 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,708 reviews25k followers
June 4, 2018
Bauer is an original voice when it comes to crime fiction, weaving stories of loss, pain, comic absurdities, with larger than life, never to be forgotten characters and the unexpected connections that arise between them. There is no pain like the broken heart of a grieving mother as Anna Buck proves on the loss of her 4 year old son, Daniel, missing for four months since the day her husband, John, forgot to lock the front door. She is chillingly unforgiving of John's error as she roams the territory of madness, with her non stop obsessive cleaning, and tending to Daniel's last footsteps marked in the cement in front of the garage John works in, run by his exploitative boss employing illegal immigrants. She rarely leaves home, no longer works, tending to her baby. She is coaxed out of her home to attend a spiritual church to see once famous shut eye, Richard Latham, in her hope that he will help find her beloved Daniel. A shut eye is a psychic who can see what others cannot, but is Latham all he claims to be?

Latham refuses to help, but Anna meets Sandra, a woman who has lost her apricot poodle, Mitzi, and gives Anna a photograph of the dog. Anna begins to experience strange hallucinations that she believes could help Sandra find Mitzi, and she turns up at Lewisham Police Station determined to do all she can to help, believing that if she helps, that this might result in a cosmic karma where someone else will work to find Daniel. DCI John Marvel puts up the backs of everyone, he hates people, animals, and whilst wanting promotion, is incapable of buttering up the right people. Superintendant Clyde, a cold fish, wants Marvel to find his wife's lost poodle, a task deemed beneath his dignity, but what if it helped secure his much sought after rise on the career ladder? Marvel's real focus is on missing 12 year old Edie Evans, a lovely girl, mad about anything to do with space, astronauts, aliens, and more. Her discarded bike is at the police station as evidence.

Marvel is an obsessive, he cannot get Edie out of his mind, even though the case is now closed. He is incensed that the police used Latham on the case to locate her, a task the psychic failed miserably. He believes Latham is a money grabbing charlatan whom he views with contempt, but a corroborating connection with Anna makes him look again at the shut eye. An impossible photograph has Marvel barely holding onto his sanity, pushing him to relinquish his hold on the world as he knows it, his relationship with Debbie collapsing and his career lying in tatters. As Marvel looks for answers as to what happened to Edie from Anna, he grasps that that there are more things on heaven and earth than he had ever dreamed of, particularly as he wonders about a schoolgirl he sees walking by.

Bauer plays her cards of reveal in the narrative with skill and expertise, never once in danger of losing her readers in this brilliant and compelling book. Edie's story is interspersed in the narrative, but it is the depiction of Anna that looms large, with her unrelenting blue circles, her dreams of aliens, her unquenchable thirsts, and above all else, her compassion for others when her life is at rock bottom. The irascible Marvel is an iconic character to rival Anna, their relationship so strange and unreal but gelling out of the blue, as Marvel teeters on the edge of madness himself. This is extraordinary story telling done with panache and charm. An unforgettable novel that packs an emotional punch, an absolute must read you would be mad to miss. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,286 reviews1,328 followers
September 4, 2016
"What's a shut eye?" said Anna.

"A shut eye is for real. An open eye pretends. Pretends to have the gift. Talking to the dead and all that."

Anna Buck is like a tree in autumn. She is losing every once colorful leaf on every single branch. Quickly they detach and flutter, oh so slowly at first, until there is nothing but the barren facing a dismal sky.

An unlocked door, left in a rush by her husband James, was the portal of escape for four year old Daniel. With feet on the run, Daniel is no more. And Anna has lost all sense of reality and functioning. Anna hardly exists any more than her missing sweet child Daniel. Her mind's faint glimmer plays hide and seek these days.

Until one day, Anna picks up a flyer announcing the so-called talents of a true psychic housed in a local church. Anna forces herself to attend the meeting much to the dismay of her husband James. And the rusted wheels start to turn......

With the turning of the wheels is the flushing out of news headlines. A young local girl is missing and has disappeared into thin air. Only a carelessly tipped bicycle found in the bushes reveals the last stopping place of little Edie. Much like Daniel, no one has simply seen a thing.

Detective John Marvel fights the draw of the bottle and the magnetic force of unsolved cases. He finds himself unraveling nowadays as well. Although resting on a prideful track record, children still vanish without a trace. Guilt and lack of resources plague him upon every step.

Belinda Bauer presents a story that peels back every human weakness, frailty, frustration, and remorse that wraps around the element of loss. Her characters move about with the weight of being human. Trudging one step at a time through this muck and mire. Revealing and not revealing their inner angst.

Have mercy! Bauer takes you down dark alleys and into the hidey-holes of locked closets. You'll not see it coming. It brought me up short with one sentence repeated twice. A jaw-dropper of a hint as only Bauer can do.

Suspend all and everything you know about psychics in this one. Don't carry any heavy baggage into the read. Let the story carry you into places like the door left ajar.

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,781 reviews14.2k followers
November 19, 2015
A missing four year old, a mother drive mad from grief, another young girl missing, a missing dog, a church minister thought to have paranormal powers and a crusty detective haunted by a case.

For most of this novel I had absolutely no idea where it was going. That is good thing in a suspense story and for me the talent that his author has, she reveals things and lets you know things exactly when she wants you to know them. Plus, you have a pretty gold reading experience getting there. Eventually, of course all come together leaving one, or at least me, totally surprised. Misdirection, she is so great at it. Absolutely loved the crusty old detective, who is much deeper than at first appeared, more layers. Plus, I learned what a shut eye was in paranormal circles.

If you haven't read her yet and are a suspense, thriller reader give her a try.

ARC from publisher.

Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,048 reviews2,103 followers
February 9, 2018
EXCERPT: John Marvel looked at his watch.

It was eight thirty-seven, and he had done the same thing less than a minute earlier. He had promised Debbie he would be home by nine. Normally it wouldn'tmatter, but tonight it did, though he wasn't sure why.

He felt the cold invade his lungs as he stared up at the dome of light that masked the stars. Frost hung in an ethereal ring around the street lamp, waiting to settle and Marvel could feel it fingeringhis shins through the thin material of his trousers.

He didn't like to be outdoors. It was too . . . fresh. Even here, where London had sprawled south, overlapping the river and coating what used to be the Garden of England with its grime and its traffic and its smell of decay.

Marvel had started to sprawl with it: too much home cooking.

Too much home.

Comfort had always made him restless. He needed to be always moving on, moving up, otherwise he got frustrated.

Now he looked across the road to the King's Arms. It wasfilled with warmth and noise and booze. It had been more than a year since he'd been there - been drunk - and he still missed it like a lover, with a yearn in his chest and a dry lump in his throat. He wouldn't have gone in tonight. Or any night. It was a test - a game he played with himself. Driving past, slowing down, craning to look.

Not stopping.

But tonight he'd stopped. He didn't know why. He was no more thirsty than on any of the other four hundred days since he had had a drink.

And then he'dseen the woman.

THE BLURB: Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

And now they are all his mother has left.

Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.

When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn't? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son...

But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?

Or is he something far, far worse?

MY THOUGHTS: Belinda Bauer has been elevated onto my favorite author list after this, the second of her books I have read.

"She drifted between sleep and this whatever it was. She hoped it wasn't death, because death should be better than this."

I became completely immersed in this book. I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I held my breath.

I finished it at the hairdressers, had another one lined up behind it to start, but couldn't stop thinking about The Shut-Eye, and the characters contained within.

DCI John Marvel has the unenviable knack of rubbing everyone up the wrong way. He is a throwback who doesn't fit the modern police profile, peopled by those with degrees and vegetarian lesbians. he doesn't make the right friends, say the right things or kiss the right arses.

When his boss pulls him off a murder case to investigate the disappearance of his wife's apricot poodle, Marvel is at first incensed, then sees it as an opportunity to obtain some leverage for promotion.

While investigating, he meets Anna Buck, who has been bat-shit crazy since the disappearance of her 4 year old son Daniel. She has begun having visions and is convinced that they are in some way related to the disappearance of Mitzi the poodle, and that if she can get the poodle found, karma will ensure the return of Daniel.

And mixed up in all this is the unsolved case of Edie, the space crazy girl who disappeared on her way to school one day, and had not been seen since; the case that haunts DCI Marvel.

I think it will be a long time before I forget DCI Marvel, Anna or her husband James, or the missing children Daniel and Edie.

A truly gripping read.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, and author Belinda Bauer for the gift of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the 'about' page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews596 followers
October 27, 2015
"Anna Buck had lost everything the day Daniel disappeared. The meagre possibility of his return was all that kept her alive--and then only just." Daniel was 4 years old.

James Buck ( Anna's husband- and Daniel's father), was having a conversation with a young girl outside the front door of their house:
"Do you know who made those footprints?, he said"
"Daniel, said the girl. He got lost and this is all his mummy has left."
"James felt unbalanced by hearing their lives summed up in a single bald sentence from a small
girl he'd never seen before"
"She still has me, he said".
"The child stared up at him. Who are you?"
"I'm Daniel's daddy "
"The girl looked away again, and carried on picking grit from the next print."
"You left the door open, she said."
"All the breath left him as if he'd been punched".

"The five footprints didn't reminds him of Daniel; they reminded him only of doing something wrong that he could never make right. Anna would never forgive him and he couldn't blame her."

A year prior, another child, Edie Evans, 12 years old, disappeared. She disappeared only miles away from where Daniel disappeared.
"Given that – – statistically – – children are at a greater risk of harm from a relative than a stranger"......
Who took these children? Are they alive or dead?

Detective Chief Inspector Marvel had been working on both of the above cases, when his superintendent, asked him to look for his wife's missing poodle, Mitzi. He is basically pissed as hell... until he discovers a link between the missing dog and the children.

There is a terrific cast of characters: Richard Latham, "A proper shut eye"? Authentic psychic?
The storyline is great... definitely a fascinating mystery - one that you'll think about long after you're done reading. The surprise for me -- was a surprise within a surprise because of the deeper serious theme which gets revealed.

Also, often the characters & dialogue were funny. ( dark humor).

Here is one more quote I really like: ( Anna was speaking), yes she was incredibly distraught - mad - crazy - as any mother would be if their child was suddenly gone, manifesting obsessive
cleaning behaviors, others forms of depression including lost weight...etc..
But Anna was also beginning to have visions. She seemed to be having psychic communications with a lost dog. "Ridiculous, ludicrous, embarrassing", she says......

Yet... a part of her believed.. ( believed visions were possible - real- like magic)
So, here's her Quote:
"It was like magic, and everybody knew that magic was a clever distraction, a misdirection,
sleight of hand and smoke and mirrors, and a willingness in the observer to be deceived, baffled and bamboozled".

This was my 2nd Belinda Bauer book. I loved "Rubbernecker", and loved this one as much.
There are a few mystery - woman writers I'll always read --( Tana French, Emily St. John Mandel, and *Belinda Bauer*), as these woman - mystery/crime authors write page turning
intelligent - thought provoking novels.

Thank You to Grove Atlantic, Netgalley, and Belinda Bauer ( I'm a fan)

Profile Image for Fictionophile .
1,061 reviews338 followers
November 12, 2020
Wow! This book will be on my favorites of 2015 list for sure!

I’ve been a fan of Belinda Bauer for a while now, but this is my favorite novel by her so far. She takes what could be a rather common premise to a whole new level!

I highly recommend this novel to all readers who enjoy character-driven mysteries or thrillers. Also to those who like their crime fiction spiced with a little humour.

I dearly hope that this is not the last we’ll see of DCI Marvel.

My rating: 5 stars For my complete review of "The Shut Eye" visit: Fictionophile
Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,131 followers
August 3, 2016

The Shut Eye by is a crime novel by Belinda Bauer. Its a twisty and fast paced read

A shut eye is a performer who becomes so adept at the illusion of mind reading that the performer comes to believe that he or she actually possesses psychic powers.
The term was used by film director Orson Welles, a gifted magician, who feared that he would fall victim to the delusion.(wikipedia.org)

Five footprints are the only sign that four-year-old Daniel Buck was ever here. And now they are all his mother has left. Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.Anna is desperate for hope, which she’s not getting from the police, or her husband James. So when a woman tells her she’s found a true psychic, a “shut eye,” she grasps at it. Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son. But when she meets the psychic, what she gets is not at all what she suspected

This was my first novel by Belinda Bauer and listened to one from Audible. The narration was good and the book the characters were strong. The story line while weak in places did keep me listening and I enjoyed the read. Not the best crime novel I have read this year but certainly one worth reading.
I not sure I was convinced by the story's conclusion or the characters actions towards the end of the novel but having said that I would read another novel by Belinda Bauer in future.

Profile Image for Jan.
424 reviews256 followers
February 16, 2016
Once again Belinda Bauer shines!

Young Daniel is missing. It appears he walked out the front door, mistakenly left open by his father, never to be seen again.
For his Mother, time has stood still. Nothing matters beyond her grief, and the belief that he's still out there, crying for her.

12 year old Edie Evans has been missing for over a year now. Her mangled bike the only clue to her disappearance.

Through a series of seemingly unrelated incidents, DCI John Marvel starts to get the feeling that the 2 kidnappings might be related. Could 'the Shut Eye' have knowledge about where the children are? What are these strange episodes and visions the Mother is experiencing? The case of Edie Evans has haunted him and he will do anything to get some answers....

In true Bauer fashion, this story doesn't disappoint with its moments of quirkiness, dark humor, and memorable characters. She takes you on a journey filled with grief, disappointment, fantasy, love, and the hint of paranormal-all wrapped up in a pretty bow. From page one I was engaged, all the way to the very last word.

I highly recommend to all mystery junkies, as this author truly knows how to spin a wicked tale and you won't be disappointed!

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,347 reviews1,250 followers
June 6, 2019
I have eagerly been awaiting a new book from the pen of the talented Belinda Bauer, she has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time now and I can safely say I have read all her books.

What I love about her books is that you never know which way she is going to go next. The Shut Eye I found to be an unusual and interesting plot that kind of wrapped itself around me slowly until I was truly in it's tentacles and could not be released until the end of the book (I promise I have not been drinking!).

Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

And now they are all his mother has left.

Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.

When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn't? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son...

But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?

Or is he something far, far worse?

Ann is a desperate woman, after her son went missing she's been a broken woman and in total desperation turns to a local Spiritualist church after hearing that the dead speak, not so much to hear from her son but to NOT hear from her son, believing him to be alive. Can this great psychic help her locate his son, does he have the powers to locate and bring him home?

Real true powers or fakery and fairy dust? That's for you to find out dear reader. Running along two story lines that eventually intersect the book is a really deep and well written tale. Belinda really manages to tap into the emotions of human fear, desperation, terror and takes us into the minds of those slightly more unstable than the next. All in the quest for answers and truth.

Meanwhile a police hunt is also underway, with a Detective that won't give up whilst everyone else has on an older crime that he can't shake off. His dogged determination makes for thrilling reading, I do like a copper that busts the rules now and then.

The book starts to take us into darker places as bit by bit truth is revealed, but not fully - no, we get a taste of what is going on, but you have to stretch the mind to piece it together, it's not given on a platter at all. As events unfold the build up to the dramatic and nail biting, yell at the book ending is fantastic, really good and really has you holding your breath for the end outcome. Hoping it's good news.

Happy ending? Sad ending? Tragic ending? All I will say is Belinda leaves the reader with a raging torrent of thoughts and emotions after reading this book, well I had that at least and pondered the ending for quite some time. Brilliant characters, especially Anna, so tragically portrayed with all her flaws, hope and desperation all at once. Really liked her character.

There are a few reveals in this book that surprised me, eyebrows popped up and I thought where did she get that idea from? Nothing that detracted from the story, but nothing at ALL that you would expect in the middle of it. Surprise! It's a hard book to review without spoilers.

I really enjoyed this read, it made me think a lot as I was reading as well as being sucked into the whole story trying to work out who was really "seeing" the truth out there. 4.5 stars from Booklover Catlady for The Shut Eye. Belinda Bauer fans won't be let down and newcomers to her books should go back and read them all. Really good.

For more of my reviews, book talk, giveaways and more go to:


Many thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for my ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tim The Enchanter.
355 reviews181 followers
September 7, 2015
Posted to The Literary Lawyer

Belinda Bauer Solidifies Herself as the Queen of the Mildly Strange - 4 Stars

I am an unabashed fan of Belinda Bauer. Since I first read Rubbernecker (my personal favourite) I have been captivated by her quirky, curious and mildly strange character perspectives. Don’t misunderstand me, she does not write bizarro fiction but she tells stories from interesting, sometimes skewed perspectives. Until this book, each story of hers (that I have read) was told from the perspective of a child or young person. Bauer ups her game in this novel and tells portions of the story from at least 5 points of view. While this serve as both a pro and a con, it works on the whole

Plot Summary

Several months before the opening of the story, the young son of Anna and James Buck goes missing after his father forgets to close the door and young Daniel wanders away. Three months later, James is afraid to go to his own home and Anna is certifiable crazy. The stress has not only damaged Anna’s mind but has left their marriage is shambles. In a effort to find her son, Anna attends a church where a minister claims psychic powers and the ability to connect with the dead. During this trip we are connected with the other set of characters and the parallel storyline. Homicide Detective John Marvel care about two things. Advancing his career and solving the a missing child case that has dogged him and threatened to derail his career. A young girl had gone missing. Her bike was found broken and abandoned. The trail had run cold and left him taking extraordinary methods to drum up new leads. Through a strange series of events, the cases of these two children collide and we are left to wonder if a trail of new evidence has a natural explanation or if there are unseen powers at work.

Many Eyes Through Which to See

Bauer never fails to provide unique perspectives. We see through the eyes of the self centred, angry and driven police detective. Through the eyes of a broken father hoping to salvage a life. Through the eyes of a mother who has suffered a break with reality. We see through the eyes of young girl who has been abducted and we watch her try and understand her situation. The various perspectives provide an interesting and varied experience for the reader. Each point of view is so unique but in many ways driven by similar desires.

While on the whole, these varied perspective work well, it becomes a bit overwhelming at times. On several occasions there are multiple perspective changes within one chapter and the reader is left to juggle and organize the different views. This also results a story that is more disjointed than her previous novels. While it is very well written with an engaging plot, it didn’t have the easy atmospheric flow of her previous novels. Bauer’s amazing sense of place and her ability to create atmosphere has been a trademark. It was lacking in this book. While not detrimental, it is not what I have come to expect.

Final Thoughts

Bauer has taken a plot that could have easily become gimmicky (psychics and unexplained visions) and created a story that takes your focus away from what could become distracting. While I did not enjoy it as much as her previous two books, Belinda Bauer has produced another winner that will keep you reading late into the night.

I should also note that this book is a prequel to her earlier novels in her Exmoor Trilogy. It isn't stated as such, but a rereading of Darkside will clarify the issue and will provide some minor spoilers of this novel.
Profile Image for Sue.
2,729 reviews219 followers
March 12, 2018
This is a book that slipped through the net. I was determined to sidle out some books that slipped down my list, I wanted to put some time aside to get to read them over the Xmas holiday, this was one of them.

This authors books are amazing, this one had slipped down my kindle, so it was great to pull this out and start reading it. I started it in the evening and carried on the next morning as I just was hooked on the story line. I didn’t have a clue where it was going to end up but it was a very good ride.

Starting off with a child going missing pulls at a reader. Then when you get the other ingredients in the pot it made for a gripping read.

My thanks to Random house via Net Galley for my copy
Profile Image for Richard.
1,821 reviews151 followers
June 4, 2020
One of the better opening chapters you could hope to read; don't stop reading as it is aleady one of the best books of 2015 and could be one of the better books you read in the year ahead.
This is an entertaining book from a brilliant story teller who brings so many issues to the reader's attention and consideration.
The loss of a child; abducted but not heard of again and no ransom demands made. The despair of parents, the failure of the police investigation and the scepticism towards the, called in to help, psychic. Not easy topics but woven into a story full of compassion and human ingenuity. Loved the characters and the constant re-evaluation the reader makes as the narrative develops. I especially liked the fact that the story has many layers and we are challenged over the use of language and labels. How we call people mental, unbalanced, imigrants, incompetant and a charlatan.
It is a novel that will lift the human spirit and ask questions about our beliefs and values. It is great to have a sense of fantasy and be taken beyond our usual mindset around good and evil, doubt and faith focusing on the enigma in all characters of The Shut Eye and posing the question can the dead communicate with the living.
This isn't a tasteless book or a religious tract or even an apology but a serious novel full of humour and keen observation. Shortly to be available I trust many more will read it and be wowed by Bauer's quality writing.
It is sad that Bauer is author of just one book a year but I would always prefer quality over quantity. Furthermore the actual books are quite unique with stories you'd want to read or be involved in. She is never content to write a simple formulaic story based on what has worked before but she pushes boundaries and shares ideas to challenge a reader. This alone makes Belinda Bauer a wonderful writer and easy to recommend to others.
Read the opening chapter again and again; it reminds me of a scene from a Dirty Harry movie; genius, and it plants a smile on your face that will last long after the final chapter is read.
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews146 followers
October 26, 2015
Shut eye : a performer who becomes so adept at mind reading that he believes he actually has psychic powers. I had never heard the term "shut eye" before.

After a few chapters of laying the background and developing characters, this book had me wondering if it was heading to the supernatural. Then BAM!! There's the Belinda Bauer I know and love!!

The unsolved case of Edie, a 12 year old girl who was kidnapped over a year ago, haunts DCI John Marvel. How is her case related to the abduction of four year old Daniel four months ago? And how the hell is it related to a missing dog?!

Poor John Marvel! He's grumpy, irritable, and sarcastic, but he's a softie inside. Oh, the situations he finds himself in and the things he does! I think his name is apt. He's a marvelous character.

There are many nuances in this book, so pay attention to the details. There are weird things happening, unexplainable things. Is there a logical explanation? I was completely immersed in this book and really didn't want it to end. Bauer writes so deliciously!

I've rated all of Bauer's previous books 5 stars. This one gets 5 as well. I think that makes her my number one favorite author. Don't tell Sharon Bolton I said that. Or Louise Penny. Or Karin Slaughter. Or Lisa Gardner. Or...
April 23, 2017
As I have recently discovered, in the world of crime fiction there is original, individual and then there is the work of Belinda Bauer. As a recent devourer of her peculiar brand of crime fiction I have lapped up her back catalogue. Managing to be gripping, surprisingly, heartwarming and bittersweet all rolled into one, The Shut Eye is another hugely memorable experience. Belinda Bauer takes a curmudgeonly forty-five-year old DCI John Marvel, in short a detective fixated on the disappearance of a twelve-year-old girl which he has so far failed to solve, a harried mother driven to the brink of madness by her four-year-old son's disappearance and a celebrity psychic with a questionable skill set, stirs and shakes well! The staggering result is a novel about missing children which manages to prove uplifting and darkly humorous at times. Very few authors would try this, even less would succeed but Bauer has managed to do so and bravely leaves her readers with a open-ended interpretation. Bauer doesn't always 'play nice' and the upshot of that is that her plots can unleash bizarre and unpredictable diversions which sometimes prove breathtaking and at times shocking making The Shut Eye a brave and bold work of crime fiction.

When DCI John Marvel first crosses paths with suicidal mother Anna Buck, he is torn between breaking his dry spell with a pint in the King's Arms or making it home to his recently acquired live-in love, Debbie, by his 9pm curfew. Stopping to 'talk down' the gaunt young woman overhanging the train tracks from atop of Bickley Bridge, Anna Buck is just another time-waster in a long line who occupy his working hours. Abrasive, grumpy and rethinking the case which has proved to be a chink in his efficient armour he never envisages how their paths will inextricably meet again in time. Never would DCI Marvel foretell his future reliance on Anna as a talisman keeping the faint hope that he will discover Edie Evans, a solar system loving twelve-year-old, alive and well. Edie's bike may have been recovered and subsequently rusting away in the basement of Lewisham police station but a fruitless search, so far lasting over a year, which has seen a psychic enlisted to consult on her whereabouts has left a bad taste in the mouth of Marvel, particularly given the £2,000 police donation to the church roof. Throw in a flyer which seems to offer hope to a grieving mother of her missing son's return and combine with an encounter with a psychic who walks like a thunderbird and watch the surprising repercussions unfold. DCI John Marvel falling off the wagon and the missing pet poodle of Superintendent Clyde's wife complete Bauer's wonderfully hotchpotch scenario.

The brilliance of the plot flourishes through a cast of realistic, well-defined characters with myriad flaws actually making them believable. It is DCI John Marvel and Anna Buck who lead the cast, but each and everyone that emerges from within the pages of The Shut Eye is pivotal to what plays out, from DC Emily Agudu as the token black female officer endlessly shackled to the front desk, right through to the portly psychic, Richard Latham, with the harem of woman who flock in his wake. Cleverly Belinda Bauer steers clear of making any statements on the authenticity and scruples of 'shut eyes' and the visions they present, meaning this novel never strays into the realm of preaching or moralising on divine inspiration!
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,363 followers
November 21, 2015
There's something very dark and insular about The Shut Eye. It deals with two parallel child disappearances, a devastated crazed mother, a very dark edgy detective called Marvel, and a perhaps psychic. As I read it, I found myself wavering -- feeling like I was watching from the margins with scepticism, then getting sucked in, and then falling back to reading from the margins. The final verdict: Bauer is a very good writer, she has a great imagination and sense of character, but I didn't feel fully engaged by the story. It was partially the psychic thing (it's really not my thing), and it was partially the resolution (it was a bit too odd for me). But based on the quality of the writing and characters, I would give Bauer another try. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Lynn.
1,608 reviews47 followers
September 5, 2016
Great study of unhappy people surviving loss and fear. I love the way Ms. Bauer slowly reveals complicated characters to each other and to the reader. There are no extraneous details in this story. Everything is important and fits together. There is a bit of unexplainable supernatural stuff that was interesting too.
July 9, 2022
Bittersweet. That was how I felt when I finished this book, probably the saddest Belinda Bauer one I’ve yet read.

It’s a story about missing children. The main protagonist is John Marvel, a DCI who has appeared as a supporting character in a couple of Bauer’s other books. He is a homicide investigator who is called in because the two missing children, who disappeared independently under different circumstances, have been missing for so long that they are presumed dead.

Marvel is not a likeable character. He is a throwback to an earlier era — brusque, discourteous, not a team player, neither at work or at home. He usually solves cases though, but has been asked to stop working on the one involving 12-year-old Edie Evans, missing for more than a year after her beloved bicycle was found broken and discarded. Marvel cannot forget Edie, whom he has discovered was a delightful girl, obsessed with space exploration, aliens, and Star War type fantasies.

At the request of her parents, a psychic was brought in to try to locate Edie, but he failed — after being paid by the police for his efforts. Marvel has only contempt for the psychic, who describes himself as a true “shut eye”, one who can communicate with the dead.

Marvel is working on the case of Daniel Buck, a four-year-old, missing for four months. His distraught mother, Anna, is obsessive to the point of near madness. In desperation, Anna also attempts to consult a psychic, the same one used in the Edie Evans case, but this time the psychic refuses to take the case. Nonetheless, after attending a session held by the psychic, Anna begins to exhibit strange visions and behaviours. At first, her visions are ignored, but then Marvel sees a connection between Daniel’s disappearance and Edie’s.

Marvel does solve one case, that of the missing Daniel. But the story ends on a poignant note. Truly bittersweet.

See my reviews for:

The Facts of Life and Death
The Beautiful Dead
Profile Image for Susan.
2,694 reviews595 followers
March 4, 2015
James and Anna Buck live in a small flat, next door to the garage where James works. One day, some months before, James had popped out to buy some fireworks and left the front door open. Their little son, Daniel, wandered outside and went missing. Now James feels unable to cope with his guilt and Anna feels as though she is descending into madness – spending her days guarding the small footprints her son made in the forecourt near her door and struggling with her anguish and the fact that she blames her husband for his terrible mistake. When a flyer comes through her door, advertising a psychic, Richard Latham, Anna feels that he could be her last hope.

DCI John Marvel knows Richard Latham. He was used in another case of a missing child – that of twelve year old Edie Evans – a space obsessed tomboy who went missing while riding her bike. However, Marvel was always sceptical and the fact that he hasn’t managed to solve Edie’s case has not helped his general bad humour and touchiness. Marvel is astounded when his boss asks him to look into his wife’s missing poodle, but then discovers a link between a poodle called Mitzi, Edie Evans and Daniel Buck, which he cannot ignore. Is Latham really a ‘Shut Eye’ and is Anna Buck having visions or descending into madness?

With a great cast of characters, a moving storyline and lots of dark humour, Belinda Bauer has written another fantastic mystery. I was absolutely gripped by this novel and think it is her best yet. Everything, from the slightly seedy Richard Latham, to the wonderfully realised DCI Marvel (who I really hope we get to meet again), to the sympathetic portrait of Anna herself and the characters who work alongside James Buck, are completely believable and you find yourself both horrified by events and yet, at times, laughing out loud at the humour. A wonderful read and much more than an average thriller. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
Profile Image for Patricia.
410 reviews83 followers
March 26, 2015
In order to post an honest review, I have to start by saying that I love Belinda Bauer’s books and writing style. I order her books from a UK bookstore because I am too impatient to wait and see if the book is made available in the U.S. I will also confess that I have read all of her books and look forward to more.

So, no surprise, I really loved The Shut Eye. I devoured this book in three days staying up to the wee hours of the morning to finish it. The main characters are DCI John Marvel and Anna Buck, who have their first chance meeting on Valentine’s Day. DCI Marvel is an experienced detective who likes to close cases, but one case of young missing Edie Evans is staying with him. He wants to find out what has happened to Edie and cannot stop looking for her even though he has other cases to solve. Anna Buck is a stay at home mom who is also looking for a missing person, her small son Daniel. Anna struggles to figure out what could have happened to Daniel, how he just disappeared so quickly, and without a trace. His small footprints in the cement out front are all she has left of him.

DCI Marvel and Anna Buck will once again meet but this time through a psychic (or shut eye) because both of them feel so desperate for answers. I found this book to have a great build-up to the end as both characters follow any leads to find the missing children. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery with a bit of supernatural insight.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,470 reviews1,005 followers
February 26, 2015
This was a clever and evocative novel from the pen of Belinda Bauer - I love her writing for its haunting quality and sense of emotion and this was no different.

In The Shut Eye we find Anna, who is falling apart after the disappearance of her son, her husband who is losing his wife to grief and various other characters including the brilliantly drawn Jack Marvel who I absolutely fell in love with. When Anna turns to a psychic in the hopes of getting some closure, things take a sinister turn. In her indomitable style, Ms Bauer then manages to take you on a spiralling, often creepy but terribly emotive journey towards the truth..

This is a story that manages to capture the essence of grief beautifully, the differing reactions and ways of coping - whilst also telling a terrific story and using the mystery element perfectly to get us into the heads of the people we meet here. Offset with some truly hilarious moments (Jack on the hunt for a missing dog) it is a terrifically compelling read throughout.

Whilst "Rubbernecker" remains my favourite so far of this authors novels, I would say that this is probably very close to it as far as addictive reading and great story quality go. She never fails to make me lose a bit of sleep whilst pondering themes explored and that to me is the sign of a darned good book.

Highly Recommended.

Happy Reading Folks!
November 27, 2015
This is my second book by Belinda Bauer, the first being Rubbernecker which was outstanding and innovative.

I started this hoping it would also be creative, creepy, inventive and ingeniously written. It was!!!

The first few chapters are told laying out the case and those involved. Pay attention to details!!!! This was a difficult part to read, the grieving mother, Anna, whose son disappeared 4 months before and who is slowly going mad, the husband James who wants to find his son and get his wife back, and the wonderful and well drawn DCI Marvel. What a character he is. On the outside he is grumpy, sarcastic, even caustic at times, but inside he is still keening over his inability to solve the case of Edie, a 12 year old girl who disappeared from the same area about a year ago. He is so drawn into his cases that he fills the wall behind his desk with pictures, turns his chair away from the office and is all consumed whenever he is sleuthing or checking facts. This is really one genius detective.

Marvel is very unhappy when his boss has him drop everything he is doing and look for his wife’s missing dog. He does so because he has no choice and even throws himself into that mystery. Along the way he meets a psychic, Richard Latham, who he believes is nothing more than a hoax. But there is another psychic on board, who doesn’t even know she is one until the nightmares and outlandish actions start occurring.

The story is so well written and riveting that I had to finish it, even though I wanted it to last longer, so wonderful is this writing. The descriptions of the time, probably around 2000, the people and place are well done.

There are lots of emotions here, grief of course is at the forefront, but there is hope, even humor among the storytelling. It is the ability to insert humor into even this sad a topic, that of a missing child, that is among Ms. Bauer’s many talents.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great psychological thriller, Ms. Bauer shines again.
Profile Image for Elaine.
604 reviews234 followers
March 8, 2015
Two children go missing months apart, but Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel’s priority job is to find the lost poodle belonging to his bosses’ wife. You can bet he is frustrated in this police procedural with a huge difference – a very large supernatural element. Can Marvel overcome his sceptism about psychics. Is he right about medium Richard Latham being a charlatan out to extort money from vulnerable people, desperate for answers? Or is Richard Latham the real deal?

It is a cracking read told from different viewpoints, that of Marvel himself, Anna – the mother of missing 4 year old Daniel, who months after her sons disappearance is falling apart at the seams. The third perspective is that of Edie, the 12 year old little girl who disappeared a year ago, and who just wanted to be an astronaut. The story really grabbed me and I didn’t want to put the book down, it was definitely a “one sitting” read.

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it, considering I didn’t like Marvel one little bit. He is rude, arrogant, obnoxious and just not a very nice man at all but, having said that, he is extremely entertaining to read about. Would I read a Marvel story in the future? Yes, but would probably want a time to elapse first, so I could forget how much I didn’t like him.

I did have some difficulty and confusion in dating the read. It didn’t seem contemporary at all, particularly as it was largely gadget and internet free and, most important, people were openly smoking in the workplace and in the pub. It wasn’t until some time into the read when a dog show was referred to that was held in 1999 – the year before the story started – that I could date it as 2000. This doesn’t sound that important until you realise that there are a couple of references to the death of Whitney Houston in the book, who didn’t die until 2012! Ignoring that though, this is a really good, cracking read that kept me glued to the screen wanting to know what had happened to the missing children, not to mention Mitzi the poodle!

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.
Profile Image for E..
283 reviews41 followers
August 7, 2016
4.5. Count me as a new fan of Belinda Bauer. If her other books are anywhere near as fun to read as this one, I'm going to get them all.

This story starts out a little heartbreaking, the loss of a child, the parents dealing with it...and not very well. But it's the characters that make this story. And they're all just a little screwed up.

I especially loved Detective John Marvel. He's driven, he's flawed, he's sarcastic. And the stuff that goes through his head is completely skewed. I hope there's another book involving him.

As the story headed to a climax, the suspense ramped up. I could also look back and recognize so many clues that had been dropped along the way. That was very satisfying.

My first Bauer, definitely not my last.
Profile Image for Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling.
1,140 reviews119 followers
July 14, 2015
Loved it!!

My View:

Brilliant. Amazing. Incredible. Delightful. Haunting. Evocative. Engaging. Surprising.

Have you got the hint? I loved this book! Superb writing, wonderful complex narrative, a hint of dark humour, exceptionally moving characters… psychics, love, death and a mania of blue and circles I could feel and see myself!! This must be one of the most outstanding reads I have come across. The last thing I will say about this read is don’t just take my word for it – read this yourself- YOU MUST READ IT.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,540 reviews595 followers
October 27, 2018
4 stars upgraded to 4.5 as I couldn’t get the story out of my mind and took a couple of days to realize how cleverly it was plotted. I found it more compelling than most psychological mysteries I have read. It is the suspenseful story of a four year old boy, Daniel and a twelve year old girl, Edie, who previously vanished and was never found. Her case has been closed. The author creates memorable characters and reveals surprising connections between some of the main cast.

The fragile Anna Buck is slipping into insanity since her beloved son, Daniel, vanished four months previously. Her husband, James, works at a garage very close to their house. Anna blames James for leaving their door open on his way to work and Daniel went outside and disappeared. The only trace of him are five small footprints embedded in the sidewalk in front of the garage and then nothing. The wealthy garage owner employs several illegal immigrants and unsuspecting clients are also cheated. Each day Anna is observed squatting on the sidewalk cleaning and polishing the tiny footprints. She has become germaphobic and occupies the rest of the time cleaning and disinfecting her entire house. She is inconsolable in her profound grief.

One day she receives a flyer about a Shut Eye named Richard Latham who will be holding sessions communicating with the dead at a local dilapidated church. The term Shut Eye refers to a true psychic as opposed to the many fakes. Anna does not believe Daniel is dead but decides to venture out in hopes that Latham can reveal where the boy is being kept. She attends the meeting with her baby in carriage. Latham refuses to help her. Anna meets a woman who has lost her poodle Mitzi and he has consoled her by saying the dog is safe and will return to her. Why did Latham refuse to help Anna, and is he a fake?

Enter Detective Inspector John Marvel. The missing dog, Mitzi, belongs to the chief’s wife and he orders Marvel to find the pet. We have met Marvel in other books and he has been an unappealing character, rude, disliked and unwilling to follow police rules of procedure. As a successful detective in charge of murder investigations he is insulted by the mission. He feels it below his dignity to look for a missing animal but also this may get him in the good graces of his boss and lead to promotion. Marvel is obsessed with finding the missing girl, Evie. The lack of success of the police department in finding her weighs heavily on his mind, especially after they paid Latham money to help find her which ended in failure. Evie was an intelligent young girl obsessed with space travel and astronauts.

Marvel is in possession of a photograph depicting the chief’s wife with the dog. He sees something unexpected in its background. He visits Anna at home several times thinking she might be of help. Anna is angry that Daniel has not been found. She has become more unhinged and goes to the police station to complain about Marvel where she undergoes a loss of consciousness and a psychic fit where she sees visions. A startling truth is revealed about her baby in the carriage. Now Marvel is determined that she look at his photo and learn what visions it reveals through her.

There are hilarious scenes where Marvel visits a pound looking for the lost dog. He fails to find it incurring the chief’s wrath. Anna’s husband is angry that Marvel is still annoying Anna. Surprisingly Marvel is becoming a sympathetic character. In his obsession to discover Edie’s fate he becomes lost in darkness and despair. His wife leaves him and he has been ordered to leave the missing girl’s case alone. The return of the dog by a young boy who received a large reward from the chief’s wife leads Marvel back to further question the psychic, Latham. Meanwhile Anna is experiencing further visions resulting in her badly damaging her home.

A sentence uttered twice by the same person reveals to us who has been behind the abductions of the two children. There is a frantic action scene near the late in the story. I felt there was a partial satisfactory closure at the end but the conclusion did not give us all the answers. A very clever, twisty plot with strongly developed believable characters.
The last page surprised and mystified me.

Profile Image for Janet .
342 reviews106 followers
April 1, 2015
The Shut Eye is the latest book from the pen of Belinda Bauer.

It's a tale that is both haunting, evocative and told in a way that captures the essences of emotions, from grief, to despair, to hope, to meltdown. Anna is a mother of Daniel who has been missing for three months, wrought from despairing grief she seeks help in the form of a psychic. We then have Marvel, A Detective Chief Inspector, who is acerbic in tone and doesn't mind showing it. Trying to come to terms with a case of another missing child, Edie; a young 12 year old girl who went missing on her way to school one day. It's a case that has deeply affected the brash, straight talking but highly ambitious cop and though I think we're not really meant to like Marvel as a character, I actually did. It becomes clear as the book moves on why Marvel is they way he is and ultimately he has a heart somewhere deep inside. I found him funny, unrelenting, rude, no nonsense but likeable because of his ways.

The book is full of emotional drama and does tug at heart strings, and there are wonderful moments of laugh out loud humour that brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I did laugh that hard!! I love the way Ms Bauer writes, she captures characters so well and brings them to life beautifully. I couldn't quite place the time setting of this book and was a tad confused by a couple of moments, but they were just a couple of minor niggles and didn't detract from the enjoyment. The book does have a supernatural element, and though I found it possibly a little far fetched - hey, who am I to judge?! I'm certainly not all seeing, all dancing, I'll accept it for what it is here!! The story concludes well in a tension building climax and there is an element of creepiness throughout.

All in all this was a great read. Apparently, I haven't read the best of Ms Bauer yet, but going by this and what I have read before, I'm in for some superb reading.

I highly recommend this one for some beautifully crafted character driven writing.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Very much appreciated.
Profile Image for Christine.
831 reviews150 followers
March 16, 2015
I absolutely adored ‘Rubbernecker’ and everybody else did as well. This is the latest crime novel from the very talented Belinda Bauer.

‘The Shut Eye’, we are told, is an expression to describe a genuine psychic, as opposed to a fraud. And psychics and their ability to see what has happened to missing people and dogs is central to the book. We follow a grieving and desolate couple, Anna and James Buck. Their young son, Daniel, wandered off from their home and disappeared. There is also another missing child Edie Evans from the same locality. The increasingly fragile Anna consults dubious psychic, Richard Latham. We also get the police perspective and some humour provided by DI Marvel. Marvel has the good fortune to be put on a missing dog case.

As you would expect with a Belinda Bauer book, you get a really entertaining and clever read. A dark a subject as missing children is handled in an unusual and gripping way. We really see how disturbed and full of regret the parents are. Anna is fascinating, as her inner pain tips over into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder behaviours. I thought the issues of illegal immigration and living in poverty whilst working, were impressively done. I could genuinely believe in James’ colleagues at the garage and felt sorry for them all.

I was surprised how the psychic element to the story worked for me. The use of psychics to help solve a mystery is one that I would be naturally scathing of. Bauer’s story-telling won me over.

Definitely one to read if you want humour, clever dark writing and social commentary all mashed up.
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,245 reviews642 followers
April 26, 2015

This is an unusual book, dealing with the mystery of two missing children and a poodle and delving into the paranormal with psychic visions.

DCI Marvel is a rude and grumpy London detective who likes to solve his cases, no matter who he upsets in doing so. However, the case of a 11 year old girl, Edie Evans missing for over a year haunts him and he is less than ecstatic when his super tells him to drop the case and look for his wife's missing dog instead. In the course of his investigation he comes up against shambolic Richard Latham, a psychic (or shut eye) who was called in to help with the Edie Evans case but was unable to shed any light on her fate. Anna Buck, mother of missing toddler Daniel has also consulted Richard Latham but received no help from him and Marvel doesn't trust him at all.

What unfolds is a sad but surprising story. It's told from the viewpoint of Marvel, Edie the missing girl, and Anna who is clearly unbalanced and beside herself with grief. Despite this being an emotional story of missing children, there is a darkly humorous undertone throughout the book, particularly provided by Marvel's search for Mitzi the poodle as well as by Anna's husband James' boss and workmates. Whether you believe in psychic visions or not, this is a very engaging book and an excellent mystery with an unexpected ending.

With thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for a copy of the book to read and review
Profile Image for Petra.
814 reviews78 followers
January 11, 2016
Don't start this one late in the day. Feeling rather tired today after staying up way too late because I just had to finish this. What a unique book! This was my first book by Belinda Bauer, and immediately after finishing it, I downloaded one of her other ones, Blacklands.
The first chapter was an immensely clever way to start off this really intriguing journey. I have to admit I was worried initially whether this was going to stray off too far into supernatural territory for me because of the inclusion of a psychic and unexplained visions, but it never did.
The Shut Eye is the story of two children, 12-year-old Edie and 4-year-old Daniel, who have disappeared, their grieving, desperate parents and the DCI who failed to find Edie and has been haunted by this case ever since.
Taking into account this very somber setting, I was amazed by the amount of humor spread throughout the story. There were some really hilarious moments and some finely honed observations on our society. Very skilled writing and so ingeniously plotted, you have to pay attention to the little details. I am really impressed by Belinda Bauer's imagination and creativity.
I absolutely adored the cranky, cynical character of DCI John Marvel and would love to see more of him. Highly recommended for fans of character-driven mysteries sprinkled with some dark humor.
I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you Grove Atlantic and Belinda Bauer.
Profile Image for Mary.
553 reviews11 followers
June 4, 2018
Dear Reader,

I didn't do too much research into this book. While I knew the premise centred around a missing child,I didn't read friends' reviews although I did note the many 5* duly awarded by them.

So,it's fair to say that I thought I would be reading just another crime/mystery who-dun-nit,in which we'd be led along a meandering, somewhat predictable,path in search of clues,with a few red herrings thrown in,for good measure......

How very,very wrong was I!!! From the very first chapter I was blatantly,yet politely shaken awake by the presence of Marvel,a tough,direct,'take no prisoners' cop.
Delightfully suspicious of everyone,a believer in stereotypes,we're soon privy to the details of a missing person's case,one that's haunted him for the past year......

Next to grace us with her presence is Anna, mother of four year old Daniel,whose disappearance has so altered her personality that she now resembles a waif like,cleaning obsessed,quasi OCD like character,believed by many to be mentally unstable,such is the toll the loss of her child has had on her.

What follows,dear Reader,is a magnificently plotted tale,richly embroidered with myriad twists and turns,deftly portrayed through the voices of Marvel and Edie,a tale that sweeps you up,engages your heart and your brain, swings the pendulum of your emotions, refusing to let you go until story's end.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was simply fantastic!

This is my first experience of reading Ms Bauer's work. Excuse me while I treat myself to another!

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