“The Eyes of the Chameleon” ticks off all the boxes for a detective thriller fiction but expect no massive surprises.
Set predominantly on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, the story started with Detective-Sergeant Cassius Toledo finding a mysterious eyeball at a crime scene. Teaming up with Assistant-Professor of Folklore Ian McMannis and Medical Examiner Amanda Yates, the trio found themselves in the midst of more disembodied body parts and a slew of colorful Berkeley characters as they probed deeper into the case, which took them as far as China.
The key selling point of this book would have to lie in the odd pairing between a policeman and an academic in cracking a murder case that sparked some brilliant chemistry and witty exchanges to leave me chuckling in approval.
“Sleepless night?” asked Toledo – the grey pallor, drawn expression and bloodshot eyes moved nearer to him.
“So that’s why they call you detectives,” said McMannis.
“I earn every one of those big bucks,” said Toledo, “speaking of which, did they give you time off too?”
“I’ve been told,” said McMannis, rubbing his eyes, “to take us much time as I need.”
“They only gave Miss Yates here a week,” said Toledo, with mock concern.
“Professors are a more tender flower,” said McMannis.
“Wilting flower,” said Yates, reaching up to pat McMannis on the check.
Yet this self-published book by author Graham A. Dixon, which is the first of the Cassius Toledo Berkeley Mysteries, is not without its shortcomings, peppered with spelling errors and inconsistencies. For instance, the Chinese postgraduate student who was murdered was initially called Frank Yeng, but later in the story, he became known as Frank Deng.
Furthermore, the plot was on the thinner side, having failed to neither sufficiently develop the characters nor the plot. I would have loved to find out more about Detective Toledo, in terms of his personal life and his struggles as well as how he befriended the professor to strike an uncanny relationship. These details will add more depth and color to the central character in ways readers can identify with.
Moreover, there were also some linkages that were missing to help piece the picture together. For instance, the story briefly mentioned that Amanda found the villain but there was no explanation about how and when did that happen, and the mysterious blue-grey eyeball that was the focal point in the first half of the book was dropped and forgotten in the second half. These holes left readers dangling with unanswered questions and a somewhat incomplete story.
The first few chapters of this book are available for free on Goodreads, so if you are interested, do check it out there.
An e-copy of this book was kindly provided by the author for review purposes. However, this post represents my personal and independent opinion.