Review: In the Blink of an Eye – Jo Callaghan

New Year, new crime series! This is the publishing debut of my Twitter pal Jo Callaghan and the first in what looks to be a great police procedural series.

I don’t know about you, but I often find police procedurals to be quite formulaic these days. The detective is jaded, divorced and seen as reckless by their superiors despite always producing results. Yawn. So it’s already refreshing to find a detective that is professional, good at their job and regarded as an asset by their boss, as DCS Kat Frank is here.

Kat is, however, something of a mess. Recently widowed, she is struggling with grief and trying to hold it all together for the sake of her son Cam. So when she is offered the chance to pilot a new crime fighting project, she jumps at it. Pairing with Lock, an AI device that can analyse data in seconds, Kat is given some cold missing person cases to solve. Will her years of experience and her human instinct be better regarded than the logical theories and probability of a robot?

We’ve seen from news stories that the law is way behind technology in many cases so this is a fascinating premise and allowing a computer to do the analysis of cold cases and data that would take humans weeks to complete can only be a good thing. But we all know that computers can’t do everything and that a good gut instinct is not replaceable with code… yet. So how will Kat and Lock work together?

I really enjoyed this. It was great to see a female detective be respected by her peers and superiors, and be allowed to be good at her job and at most aspects of her personal life. It still feels different to have women portrayed like this.

But the emotional aspects of Kat’s work, her feelings of total loss and grief over her husband’s death are very real too. This is a real person trying to get through the day and use her emotional intelligence in the right way. The book covers the different ways that grief can hit you so well and Kat is a great character, easy to imagine in the mind’s eye as you read. Knowing a bit about Jo and how she came to write this book, this aspect of the book is very understandable but it’s great to have it written about in this clear and emotional way.

This is a well thought out book, making the case for changes in police procedure but also pointing out that we all can connect better. There’s also a lot of humour, the interactions between Kat and Lock are often very funny and well observed, providing depth and insight into human behaviour. It asks questions about what it is that makes us human, and what we need to keep sight of as we go through life.

In The Blink of An Eye is a great debut novel and the start of a real enjoyable crime series. I look forward to Jo’s next book.

In The Blink of An Eye is published on 19 January by Simon and Schuster.

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