A Dead Man’s Eyes is the first book in the new Lisa Jamison Mystery series by Lori Duffy Foster, and it is the author’s debut mystery/crime novel. However, Lori Duffy Foster is no novice at writing. A former crime reporter who has gone on to write non-fiction and short fiction, this mystery/crime fiction debut clearly reflects that writing experience. The pacing is particularly good, something that no doubt benefits from Lori’s crime reporting and familiarity with police and investigative procedure. The suspense level is sustained throughout the story, with just the right edge of encroaching danger. I found myself reading this book with that unshakeable trepidation of something waiting just around the corner, and that’s just how I want my mystery/crime reading to feel.
The character at the center of the action is Lisa Jamison, barely in her thirties, but already with a sixteen-year-old daughter. Lisa had a rocky, unconventional start to her current life as a mother and reporter for the local newspaper in Seneca, New York. Having left a home where her parents neglected her for drugs and pregnant at fifteen, Lisa got put in the system. Her luck actually improved at that point, unlike some who suffer in the temporary support system. A couple took Lisa in and showed her a loving home, which enabled her to have her baby, Bridgette, go to college, and start a career. Bridgette’s father was out of the picture, partially due to the night that a tragedy caused he and Lisa to part.
But, sixteen years later Lisa finds herself face to face with Bridgette’s father, Marty. Unfortunately for Marty, he is lying on a medical examiner’s table, dead from a gunshot wound. Lisa is friends with the ME, who has allowed her to identify Marty. Marty had recently contacted Lisa wanting to see Bridgette, but Lisa had told him she wasn’t yet ready for that. Now, Marty is the victim of murder and accused of being a drug dealer. Lisa knows that no matter how long it’s been since she’s seen Marty, he’s no drug dealer. So, how did her ex-boyfriend end up a murder victim? Lisa isn’t a reporter for nothing. Before she can tell Bridgette about her father, Lisa needs to clear his name and be able to give her daughter a more positive image of him.
Marty’s death really gets bizarre when at the funeral home visitation for him, his mother meets Lisa outside the funeral home to warn her that people will be watching them and to meet her in the funeral home’s restroom after a bit. The meeting in the restroom is brief and to the point. Celeste tells Lisa that she and Bridgette are in danger and gives her evidence Marty had on the people who killed him, evidence about a black market Lisa had been oblivious to. It becomes a life and death matter to uncover what happened to Marty now, but it’s hard for Lisa to know whom she can trust. She suspects the Mohawk County Sheriff’s Department of somehow being involved, and she feels threatened by the Sheriff. She has no choice but to keep digging, at one point literally, as Lisa fights to keep herself and those she loves from becoming victims, too.
Thanks to Lori Duffy Foster and Level Best Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this first book of what promises to be a thrilling, dynamic series. I was delighted to find that A Dead Man’s Eyes was a book that thoroughly gripped me from beginning to end, and what an action-packed, emotionally charged ending it is. The characters are all so deftly developed, building on their background information that seamlessly segues into who they are today. There is a depth to the characters that is exceptional in a debut novel. Lori Duffy Foster is a welcome addition to the mystery/crime fiction community, and I am looking forward to her next addition to this series.