“Through Stranger Eyes” by Chris Sarantopoulos

It seems a shame to give only three stars to a book that has had so much creativity and work put into it, but there you are. Sometimes things just don’t hang together. Strengths misused become liabilities. The whole is not equal to the sum of its parts. This is the point where beta readers, honest friends and a good developmental editor can put you straight.

A detective novelist needs the art of releasing the clues to the readers with exactly the right timing. Too quickly and the story is over. Too slowly and we lose interest. I’m sorry to say the first 20% of the book gives readers no clues at all. The hero’s path is unremittingly downward, leaving us with no glimmer of hope.

This is the standard “One man against the machine” story in a setting highly reminiscent of Blade Runner. Dr. Rick Stenslandt is a top surgeon in a futuristic world where biotechnology reigns supreme, and megacorporations rule it all. His outspoken opposition to cosmetic enhancement earns him the enmity of…someone. The new eyes he has received after a suspicious accident seem to be giving him false memories of the murders of top executives. His confidence begins to deteriorate, and his status teeters. All his attempts to investigate the problem lead to a gradual peeling away of the layers of society and economy that protect him and his family. He is reduced to scrounging through the under layers of the city to find clues as to what is really going on.

In the process of this fall from grace, he descends through a deteriorating futuristic architecture and meets a myriad of bizarre characters. Unfortunately, this highly detailed and imaginative description of people and settings adds to the length of the book and slows the narrative.

Accurate grammar but awkward sentence structure leaves one to suspect the work of a good proofreader with no intent to improve the author’s writing style.

Finally, a deus ex machina ending comes out of nowhere and renders any interpretation of the theme meaningless.

Recommended for fans of The Fifth Element and Blade Runner, but a picture being worth a thousand words, this story would play better in film format.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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