Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Eye Collector by Sebastian Fitzek

When the story starts with an epilogue and the first chapter is the end, one can't help asking, if this is just a gimmick or it serves a purpose. Eavesdropping into the Police Radio ex-cop and now reporter Alexander Zorbach discovers that the Eye Collector is at work again. And the countdown begins. The Eye Collector of Berlin is a serial killer, who kills the wife, kidnaps the child and challenges the husband to find the child before the stopwatch in his dead wife's hand stops, playing a deadly game of Hide and Seek. When the husband fails, he sends back the dead child with only one eye, as his name suggests.

Alex gets embroiled in this case. He meets Alina Gergoriev who is blind, who tells him a story that he is not sure if he can believe. Alina tells him that at certain times she has visions about the past. Alina is a massager and on touching her latest client, she sees a vision. She sees him killing the wife and kidnapping the child and is sure that he is the Eye Collector. How did Alina trace Alex? They start investigating the vision and get involved in the case more and more. Will Alex and Alina save the child before the stopwatch stops? Can Alex trust Alina?

This is a fast-paced book with very short chapters and good size font that is really easy on the eye. The events follow one after another, that the thoughts lingering in the back of my mind surfaced only at the end, so whatever happened in the end is not really a surprise, the whole story had been moving towards this conclusion. Still there are other surprises and twists and turns. Given the title I had to think that the book would be gory and graphic. It isn't. At least, he does not go into the mechanics of eye collection. Fitzek uses mythology to explain why the eye collector is doing what he is doing. Do serial killers take a short course in mythology?

By using Alina as one of the key characters in the story, Fitzek points out in his acknowledgements, he wanted to answer his and our questions about blind. Have you ever wondered how do the blind dream? Do they see images like us or is it different? Do they 'watch' TV? How do they distinguish colours? Fitzek points out that he had conducted research and got information to answer some of these questions and to remove some of the preconceived notions we may have about them from watching movies and reading books.

Yes! The reverse story telling does serve a purpose and is not a gimmick. Originally published in German, The Eye Collector is translated into English by John Brownjohn and published in 2012.

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