Jay Erlich’s nephew has been found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay. It’s all just a tragic suicide, until secrets from the past begin to rear up again. Did a notorious killer, jailed for many decades, have his hand in this?Years ago, Jay Erlich’s older brother, Charlie, a wayward child of the sixties, set out for California, where he fell under the sway of a charismatic but deeply disturbed cultlike figure. Tragedy ensued and lives were destroyed, but as the decades passed, Charlie married and raised a family and lived a quiet, secluded life under the radar. Yet the demons that nearly destroyed him never completely disappeared.
Drawing on two real-life experiences from his own past, Gross has crafted a richly personal, yet utterly terrifying tale of two brothers, one successful, one wayward, trying to bridge the gap of what tore them apart.
Ugh. I picked up Eyes Wide Open because I was hoping for the same non-stop action, heart-pounding page-turner that was 15 Seconds, which I enjoyed this past summer. Unfortunately, Eyes Wide Open was not that book. The unoriginal plot not only was messy and extremely repetitive. Pace was frustratingly slow. The characters were not only unlikable, but confusing. The villains defied logic. And the police are useless. However, there were some wonderful suspenseful moments. I also applaud Gross for using his only experiences, but overall Eyes Wide Open was just your average suspense novel that I would hesitate to even call it a thriller.
When In Crisis, Just Claim You’re A Doctor
Or at least that’s how the protagonist, Jay Erlich, operates. “I’m a doctor.” seems to be his default automated message. He says it to emergency personal, cops, reporters, taxi drivers, everyone else he meets. I get it, you have a fancy medical degree, so what? What being a doctor has to do with solving crime is beyond me.
For some reason, all of Jay’s “guesses” turn out to be correct, or somehow turn into truths as the story progresses. The witnesses claim to be unsure of the suspect’s gender. Along the way, the suspicions are dropped, and everyone believes the suspect is a woman…because a doctor (who didn’t even speak to the witness) suspected it.
Also, Don’t Tell Your Family Anything
One of the most annoying parts of the novel is Jay’s numerous phone calls to his over-reacting wife. He’s only gone for a week, and she’s already freaking out. Gosh, woman! Calm down! It’s ONLY been a week. I thought at any point she would be filing for divorce. His I’m-not-going-to-tell-my-wife-anything-because-she-won’t-understand attitude doesn’t help matters either. What kind of marriage is this? I’m supposed to like this guy? Really?
I Have No Compassion For These People
The author tried to make Charlie and Gabby pitiful, unlucky victims who just lost their son. But their reliance on family money, being on welfare, having no job, drug addictions, left me disgusted.
I don’t mind multiple perspectives. In fact, I welcome them. But the shifting POVs from first-person to third-person, and to different characters, was confusing. Especially because it was not mentioned in the chapter heading. Every few chapters I’m left with “Who is this again?!?!”
Plot Holes, I’m Not Falling In You!
To do what these criminals are capable of, they must work for the mafia. I thought these people were supposed to be delusional druggies, but somehow they are VERY capable of hunting down people. I swear they must have access to police records.
I have no idea why Jay thinks the criminal (who is supposed to be poor) has the money fly to New York to kidnap his son, and then fly right back. The face-off between Jay and the criminals was easily the worst part of the novel. He pleads the police not to shoot the criminal, who is charging at him with a knife, because “he has my son!” You want to be dead, or what? I have no idea why Jay would think the criminal would even tell him the location of his kidnapped son. But Jay is missing a few brain cells like that.
Ending (WHAT IS THIS?):
I didn’t even know it was the ending until I started reading the Afterword and was like “What is this? This doesn’t fit into the plot!” I was looking for an ending with more finality, but I was just glad the book was over. But I guess Gross was leaving room for suspense. I would prefer the epilogue to be left out for it only made me dislike Max (Jay’s son,) who sounded like the stereotypical teenager whose vocabulary didn’t stretch beyond “Sweet!,” “Cool!,” and “Awesome!” Ewww. I only met him for three pages and I already dislike him. Maybe it’s because I’m a teenager (technically) that I am extra perceptive to the way teens are being portrayed.