I am probably not your average reader. I devour a book in its entirety. My mother had a saying that she used often when I was growing up, ‘you should never judge a book by its cover.’ It is an English phrase referring to judging people by their appearance rather than the person inside. As a reviewer though, I disagree with my mothers definition, I do indeed believe that you can tell a great deal about a book by its cover. Oh, not literally the cover art, but the information outside of the actual text. I have to admit that when I read the dedication page, I was chilled:

In memory of Nicole, one of my undergraduate students, who was raped and murdered in her apartment near George Washington University, and to all young women who have been victims of brutal crimes. Somehow, may they rest in peace.

As a result of that dedication I was a little worried about the story that was going to follow, was this a premonition of a dark and moody story, one guaranteed to depress?

Not so at all! Charles Toftoy has created an incredible novel that is a real page turner. Four young women have lost their lives in what appears to be the work of a serial killer. The police seemed stalled in their progress, the Modus Operandi is always the same, strangulation by a yellow scarf and rape.

One set of grieving parents unhappy with the progress call in Lars Neilsen and his skilled and diversified Alpha Team of investigators. Although It’s In The Eyes is a work of fiction Charles Toftoy actually hits a nerve with the idea of a private investigative team. I know several Investigators in real life, they are not the gumshoes portrayed in most books, they are clinical and analytical thinkers, they also can often go where the police can not. Indeed Lars, who is a college professor, and the rest of the Alpha Team are all critical thinkers. Little get by them.

It does not take them long to recognize the significance of the Yellow scarf, a trademark of a 17th and 18th century vicious group of killers in India, the Thuggees. These killers are reported to be responsible for the death of up to two million people in India over a two century period. These followers of the goddess Kali killed as a form of reverence.

Lars and the team quickly determine that there are more than one killer, one of the murders looks as if the same MO was used, but there are subtle differences. A hit job that has gone wrong?

With Washington DC in a state of panic, it is a race against time. Can the killers be found before they strike again?

Charles Toftoy has created a very fine novel in It’s In The Eyes. It is an action thriller, that grabs you from page one and does not let go until you hit the back cover. It is not dark and gloomy, it is a ripping yarn. The characters are larger than life, and sometimes outrageous, it is perfect escapism. The author though, does hit on some truisms, not least of which is the role of the press in assisting an investigation. We are often ‘unofficially’ fed a tid bit to rattle a cage. That is something that I have first hand knowledge of. Also the use of Profilers, I happen to know one, she has an uncanny ability to extract a physical and mental picture of the perpetrator of the crime.

All in all, I give this book a very high mark, an action thriller well worth the effort of seeking out.

You can order your copy of It’s In The Eyes  from Amazon, Charles Toftoy also has a web site.

Simon Barrett

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