Close My Eyes, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


It's been eight years since Geniver Loxley lost her daughter, Beth.Since that day, Gen has been floundering.

While her husband Art builds his business reputation and their fortune, she can't let go of Beth. And then one day, everything changes. A strange woman shows up on Gen's doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that Beth is alive.

That she is out there somewhere, waiting for Gen to find her . . . It's insane. Unthinkable. But why would someone make up such a story? Ignoring the warnings of her husband and friends, Gen begins to hope - hope that quickly turns into fear and paranoia.

With questions swirling around her head, Gen is determined to uncover the truth.

But who can she trust? Why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? Is Beth even really out there? And, if so, who is responsible for taking her? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?


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Review by

"Of course, what I didn't realise then is that grief, like the seasons, is cyclical. I would just start to feel open to life again, then find myself thrust back under the water, drowning in loss."Geniver Loxley lost her daughter Beth in a stillbirth eight years ago, and has been struggling ever since. When a stranger turns up on her doorstep, claiming that Beth is still alive and that there was a huge conspiracy to have Geniver believe that Beth is dead, and then that stranger is killed in a hit-and-run, Gen can't help but cling to the thread of hope, and, terrified of the violence seeking to catch up with her, she starts to try to track down her daughter.This is a very tightly written thriller; McKenzie steers Geniver neatly down the line between compulsion and madness, between paranoia and reasonable fear. Like Geniver, the reader never knows whether her husband is involved or not, whose information she can trust, or whether Geniver is actually mad. The voice of a child weaves through the story, popping up intermittently, and remains a mystery until the end - enough to keep the reader looking for the next interruption. It reminded me a lot of Louise Douglas' The Secrets Between Us, although the characterisation is tighter and the mystery/madness angle more delicate than in TSBU.In a sense, there is a little too much background information on the main characters: so much time and so many words are spent on Art's background, his rise to money and fame - it's clear that he is desperate to succeed at all costs. Similarly, we spend just a bit too time in Geniver's reproductive doldrums; as if a stillbirth wasn't traumatic enough, she hasn't fallen pregnant since and remains single-mindedly focussed on Beth, excluded from her friends' worlds of muddy football kit and birthday parties. In some ways, her exclusion from the world of a mother calls into question her suitability to take charge of a child, should Beth be found alive.I'd figured out that the villain must be one of three people, given the assortment of red herrings, and was gratified to discover that one of them was the main villain, with a lot of help from a second one! There's a really chilling ending to this one, after the big climax/shoot-out/confrontation which we all knew was coming, which I didn't expect and which ends the reading experience with quite a cold, brutal feeling - as if the rest of the book wasn't brutal enough!A well-paced, enthralling debut - I look forward to more of McKenzie's work.

Review by

Sophie McKenzie is a well-known YA author who I first encountered when her teen thriller 'Blood Ties' was nominated for the Berkshire Book Award. (It was short listed for various other prizes and also won a fair few similar awards.) I was excited when I spotted this, her first thriller for an adult audience, and hoped it would live up to my expectations.What's it about?Geniver Loxley lost her daughter, Beth, eight years ago. Since then, she has struggled to move on, while her husband has built a business empire. One day a stranger appears on her doorstep and tells her what she longs to hear: her daughter is alive. Could this be true? Gen is determined to find out, even if it means doubting her husband, her friends and her own sanity.What's it like?Quietly engrossing, then increasingly dramatic. I was initially drawn-in by the portrait of a couple living their everyday lives, considering IVF, long married and no longer completely in tune with each other. Then - bam! The stranger arrives with her news at the end of chapter one. I like that McKenzie starts the action quickly (too many books seem to reveal half their plot in the blurb, so you're left itching to move beyond your expectations) and the way her protagonist, Gen, is subsequently unsettled, slowly reaching into the murky past.The characters are well-drawn and there's plenty of doubt. Is Gen being conned? Can she trust her husband, Art, who seems desperate to leave Beth behind them? Is Art's old friend Lorcan trying to cause mischief or does he really want to help Gen? And why is Gen's best friend, Hen, colluding with Gen's husband behind her back? I found the first couple of hundred pages gripping as I strove to decipher the truth, but when the truth began to surface I was dubious.ReflectionsThe truth about Beth Loxley is far-fetched and there's a lot of talking required to even begin to explain it, though if you accept the personalities McKenzie has taken care to establish, it all does make perfect (albeit twisted) sense. I felt the ending was a little OTT too, but again, if you really consider what's at stake, it's probably not. I think when I was reading I became almost irritated by the solution McKenzie created, but on reflection I'm not sure why. Possibly I was irritated by other, mostly very minor, details.Why, oh why, is Gen incapable of moving forward without male support? (Why is this true of so many female protagonists? Why do none of them ever have real best friends they can rely on to help them solve their problems? Best friends who don't just assume they're mental? I assume the answer is partly that two women working co-operatively and sensibly to resolve issues wouldn't be as thrilling, but why not? Does there really always HAVE to be sexual tension involved?) Why is she called Gen? What kind of name is 'Art'? Or 'Hen'?Despite the minor irritations outlined above, I did enjoy this and thought it worked really well as a thriller. McKenzie makes effective use of red herrings and retains ambiguity over who can be trusted for a long time. She also effectively interweaves the main story with a few snippets of diary like text from a young child. It is unclear for a long time who the child is, but once the reader realises who it is, the diary voice helps provide a thoroughly chilling conclusion to the story.Final thoughtsThis novel is described as a 'nerve-jangling thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn and Sophie Hannah' on the back cover and I completely agree. However, the converse is also true. If you thought 'Gone Girl' implausible or that 'Little Face' involved too many long explanations of motives then this might not suit you.As for me, I enjoyed this sufficiently to keep an eye out for more by Sophie McKenzie and the blurb for her second adult thriller, 'Trust in Me', sounds intriguing. Hopefully next time I'll feel completely gripped throughout.

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