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A Single Eye: A Darcy Lott Mystery    by Susan Dunlap order for
Single Eye
by Susan Dunlap
Order:  USA  Can
Carroll & Graf, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Meet Darcy Lott, Susan Dunlap's latest mystery series protagonist. As a stunt-double for the movies, Darcy is resourceful, methodical, careful, and - for the most part - fearless. She does, however, have one debilitating phobia: she cannot tolerate trees, woods, and forests; in fact, she's absolutely petrified when surrounded by trees!

So, after a particularly nasty incident during the filming of what should have been a routine stunt for a movie in the American Southwest, Darcy has decided that she must leave her New York City home and take a break from work for a while so that she can confront her anxieties through restful meditation. With that goal in mind, she makes plans to go a retreat (sesshin) at a Zen monastery in California (which is, unfortunately for Darcy, set in the midst of a California redwoods forest).

As she prepares to leave her home in NYC and go to California, her Zen teacher in Manhattan, Yamana-Roshi, gives her an enigmatic message that she must pass on to the teacher at the California sesshin: 'Tell Garson-roshi I know what he is planning and he must no do that.'

When she arrives at the California monastery, the enigma of Garson-roshi becomes more complicated. Darcy knows that a student of Garson-roshi had disappeared without a trace six years earlier. The mystery of the disappearance of that student, known only as Aeneas, now seems to threaten Garson-roshi's future - and present - as a revered Zen teacher.

So, Darcy - the engaging protagonist who has been introduced to us as resourceful, methodical, and careful - takes on the self-appointed, painstaking task of finding out what happened to Aeneas. Moreover, Darcy quickly realizes that other secrets and other problems threaten to destroy the thin veneer of peace and harmony at Garson-roshi's sesshin. Other Zen pilgrims at the sesshin are hiding something, Garson-roshi's life is in danger, and only Darcy - with her Zen-like inquiries - can restore the monastery to its proper balance, harmony, and health. However, before any of that can happen, Darcy will need to confront murderous dangers - and deep-seated fears - that threaten to destroy her spiritually and physically.

A Single Eye is an intriguing mystery built upon a unique theme: Zen meditation. Author Susan Dunlap has written eighteen novels and a collection of short stories, and she has won the Anthony and Macavity Awards. Dunlap proves once again in A Single Eye that she knows how to write a fascinating mystery that is particularly enriched by setting, themes, and characterizations. However, don't look for a fast-paced thriller when you pick up A Single Eye. Prepare yourself instead to be patient as you share in Darcy's slowly revealed path to enlightenment and harmony.

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