“Book Review: Eye for Eye”
Reviewed by Joseph Haeger
A tightly written thriller that has all the lust, revenge, and murder you could hope for in a can’t-put-down novel.
Eye for Eye by J.K. Franko is a twisting narrative that immediately digs its hooks into you and doesn’t let go. The roving point of view shifts between a number of characters as plans for murder and revenge are hatched and executed. The constantly moving POV pulls us to the edge of our seats and keeps us there, turning the pages in hopes that the next perspective will have more answers.
Mysteries blossom as secrets are revealed, and then more questions arise. In reality, a book like this shouldn’t work, with so much going on, but Franko pulls it off. He threads such a tight needle that we’re able to keep it straight, trusting all our questions will be answered by the end.
Roy and Susie lost their daughter in a horrific car accident. Time has passed, but grief still grips them and prevents them from moving forward. The boy who caused the accident—by texting and driving—is in a coma but improving, when he dies under suspicious circumstances. The couple are suspects #1 and 2 until their out-of-town alibi proves solid. Now it’s their turn to enact revenge upon a rapist who gets acquitted. They seemingly have no connection to the man or his victim, and after determining its justifications, Roy begins to plan the perfect murder.
Like a great thriller hitting the silver screen, Eye for Eye immaculately plots this story. We’re given hints of deeper mysteries from the past simmering below the surface, while we watch Roy’s mind unlock the complexities of the tasks at hand. For the A plot, it’s never a question of who did the crime. It’s clear that Roy is the guilty party, but watching him plan and execute the murder is so damn compelling.
The question becomes not if he did it, but whether he’s going to get away with it as different variables come into play. Then, we’re shown the reckoning of the past rushing up and disrupting his present-day plans. It all adds up to tense and satisfying conflicts.
By example, Franko is giving us a master class in tension and how it can build even when we seemingly know all the players and their motivations. It’s incredible how well he juggles all the different narratives and keeps us on the hook for the entire story.
There are moments where we’re inside detectives’ minds. These could be intriguing moments further ratcheting up the tension, but they do seem relatively surface-level. These characters have little flourishes—like how one says the same catch phrase every time he answers the phone—which is great for building better and more rounded images for them, but these moments don’t necessarily add the same amount of depth in comparison to the criminals. They tend to feel two dimensional where everything else in the novel feels fully fleshed out. I want more complex good guys to add another layer to Eye for Eye. Who do we really want to come out on top: the law or the law breakers?
By the end of the novel a lot of answers come out quickly. It feels like the book threatens to come off the rails, but Franko is able to keep it grounded even in moments of extreme coincidence. These are moments that are easy to look past because he sets it up for the sequel so well. If this was a stand-alone book, I’d have some issues with the cliff hanger Eye for Eye ends on, but since I know there’s more coming, I’m thrilled at the prospect of spending more time with these characters.
I read this knowing it was a part of a trilogy, and as the plot unfolded, I didn’t know what a follow up could possibly entail, so it’s masterful how Franko uses the ending to reveal a long-standing question and perfectly set up all the tensions and conflicts to come. This is a cinematic purloined letter, where some of the intricacies are hidden in the nooks and crannies, but the big ones are out in the open, begging us to look at things a little differently.
Paperback: 432 pages
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