JOHN LUTZ – Diamond Eyes. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, December 1990. No paperback edition.

JOHN LUTZ Diamond Eyes

   The dust jacket of this book describes it as “A novel of suspense featuring private investigator [Alo] Nudger.” Partly right. There is a lot of suspense, but most of that is due to the fact that Nudger doesn’t do any investigating.

   In fact, I’m not sure I know what he does do, other than worry and sweat and lose his lunch as his client, his girl friend and his best friend are all either murdered, terrorized or brutalized by a pair of thugs who think Nudger knows the location of a slew of stolen diamonds.

   He doesn’t, but that’s no excuse. The final straw comes when [Oops. PLOT ALERT] he simply leads the bad element straight to his dead client’s sister. He has successfully hidden her out for the second half of the book, but if I may quote from page 189: “He got in the Granada and aimed it north toward Hannibal, not noticing the drab gray rental car that followed.”

   There is no other word to describe him. In this book Alo Nudger is incompetent. I’ve read a few of his cases before, and I’ve enjoyed them, but if I were to call this one disappointing, it would be an understatement.

PostScript:   [Minor PLOT ALERT]   I also didn’t care for the way Nudger’s client, female, was so brutally murdered. Calling it torture and rape doesn’t begin to describe it. What the author may have had in mind was showing how sadistically uncivil Nudger’s opponents are, but I (simple minded as I am) found it distasteful and disgusting.

   Early on in the story a bomb on an airplane goes off, killing 93 people. For a PI story, I think this is overkill. I concede that it was a crucial part of the story the author was telling. You’ll have to convince me, though, that it was a story worth telling. It certainly wasn’t one I wanted to read.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File 28,
       February 1991 (slightly revised).