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Other Eyes    by Barbara D'Amato order for
Other Eyes
by Barbara D'Amato
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Barbara D'Amato's Other Eyes is the very model of a modern archeological mystery. Its opening - an infant crawling across a busy expressway - immediately puts us on the edges of our seats, and the subsequent fast-paced action shakes us right off them. The lead, forensic archeologist Blue Eriksen, is intelligent and spirited. There's an international assassin, an archeological mystery, and a shocking new discovery about early humans, magic mushrooms and religion. The genre doesn't get much better.

Back to the opening in Chicago, Illinois. Though there's quite a pile-up on the highway in which many die, the infant is rescued by Brad, a teen who's skipping school. But who is the child and how did he get there? Police try to follow his trail back to where he started from. Next readers meet Professor Blue Eriksen being interviewed on television about her current research into 'the fact that all the world's religions developed in partnership with naturally occurring hallucinogens.' She and her colleagues are testing the tissues of ancient humans at their burial sites to find what and how much they used. Blue is also investigating 'whether the psilocybin experience tends to prevent the use of hard drugs.'

It's the latter that makes her a target of Leeuwarden Associates, a secret multinational whose worldwide, extremely profitable business is illicit drugs. Their chief assassin, Felix Hacker, follows Blue from Chicago to Peru to Turkey, as he makes several attempts on her life. To his intense frustration and anger, Blue survives, though there's plenty of collateral damage. Another story thread follows FBI agents Marcus Holton and Diana McCullough. They track Hacker to Chicago but can't figure out his target there, and return to Arlington, Virginia. Despite his superior's order to stay off the case, Marcus keeps digging. Yet another intriguing story thread follows a museum robbery in The Hague. Art theft investigator Joseph Stryker is called in and figures out the ingenious method behind a mysterious theft.

All these story threads come together, along with a big surprise, in an electrifying ending. If you're feeling midwinter doldrums as I have been, then Other Eyes is just the book to jolt you out of them - it's an intelligent thriller, impossible to put down, and painlessly imparts a fair number of anthropological and archeological insights along the way. Absolutely not to be missed!

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