by Jeremy Lott

A Blind Eye

by G. M. Ford

(William Morrow) $23.95

The epigraph to this book serves fair notice to readers that we're in for a bumpy ride. G. M. Ford (yes, that is his real name; and yes, he is a local mystery writer) quotes British aphorist and novelist G. K. Chesterton as saying that while "children are innocent and love justice," most of us poor schlubs are "wicked and prefer mercy."

A Blind Eye opens with true-crime writer Frank Corso running from the Texas police. They want to question him before a sitting grand jury in connection with a book-selling boast that he knew where a body was buried. Turns out Corso only knew a guy who knew where the body was buried, and the gentleman in the know has disappeared without a trace. In order to avoid a long jail sentence and possible financial ruin, Corso must avoid Texas' finest until the grand jury's term expires in a little over a week.

The chase takes our hero and his photographer (and former lover) Meg Dougherty to the outskirts of an isolated Illinois town, in the middle of the mother of all blizzards. Their SUV crashes, and the two struggle to an old abandoned cabin. In the process of cannibalizing the floorboards for firewood, they discover the bodies of most of the previous inhabitants, sealed in plastic bags. Because of reelection problems, the local sheriff agrees to give the Texas Rangers the slip if Corso agrees to try to get to the bottom of this.

The search takes them to a soon-to-be-abandoned convent, where they learn of a mad sex-crazed girl with a cloudy past and an equally elusive future. The further they peel back the onion, the worse the picture looks--it includes backwoods incest, mass murder, and the complete indifference of law enforcement.

This is a dark book and only a partial success. In fact, a better epigraph might have been "Abandon hope, all who enter here."

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