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All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman
Review by Drew Bittner
Pocket Books Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451652222
Date: 31 July 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Book Trailer / Show Official Info /

Jackson Lee has a terrible gift: he can touch an object and know far too much about what happened to whoever owned it. His gift kicked in when he touched a little pink shoe and realized his beloved little sister was dead.

That discovery, and the shocking domino effect it causes, shattered young Jackson's life and sent him into a tailspin that took years to end, leaving him with one surviving sister and a load of guilt.

And so begins All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman, the start of a new series featuring a psychic with a troubled past and a troubling present. Although Jackson has struggled with his knack, even falling into the life of a carnival grifter for a short while, he believes he is turning his life around--partly with help from an effervescent secretary named Abigail.

Until the military pays him a visit and requests his help. In other words, they'll put him in a deep, dark hole unless he figures out how a dangerous, unauthorized experiment went so badly wrong.

A paranormal killer is loose and it wants...something. But for all his talents, Jackson falls further and further behind, even as the killer's trail leads inexorably toward his childhood home and the memories he's struggled to lock away. With help from a dangerous agent named Hector and a doctor incongruously named Allgood, Jackson must track down an incorporeal killing machine named Charlie--and get to the bottom of his rampage.

So why is someone looking to sabotage Jackson's efforts? And what secret might Charlie have that someone else is willing to kill to protect?

Even stranger, who is trying to help Jackson and should he trust help that seems to appear from nowhere?

As this case roars toward its conclusion, it's clear that Jackson's past is about to collide with his present, and it's anyone's guess whether he'll survive the impact.

Jackson is much like Thurman's other antiheroic protagonists, with a horrific upbringing giving them a perennially sour outlook on life, using mordant wit to deflect their feelings and protect themselves from emotional vulnerability until someone chooses to break through anyway. Jackson has some unusual skills but in many ways he's akin to Cal Leandros and the Korsak brothers. However, the specific nature of that upbringing affects this story in ways that the other stories do not; Thurman has transcended what might have been a clone of past protagonists, evolving the storyline and weaving together what might otherwise have remained separate strands.

In particular, this story offers both a ray of sunlight and a big body blow for a conclusion (which I will not spoil), leaving the door open to Jackson's continuing adventures in an unusual way.

Despite starting as classic heavies, the military and scientific groups here are less evil/obtuse than they are desperate for answers. Allgood, Thackery, and Hector grow less threatening and more collaborative as the story progresses, and they see that Jackson's own history is part of the answer; if anything, they evolve more than Jackson does.

Thurman continues to improve with each new story. Jackson represents steps away from the comfort zone of past tales and, if this is any indication, big things are in store for this writer.


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