Author: Tahir Shah
Genre: Dark Comedy
Publisher: Secretum Mundi
The greatest eye surgeon of his age, Dr. Amadeus Kaine is fêted by royalty, dictators, Hollywood, and the international jetset. An epicurean of sophistication and dark obsessions, he’s devoted his life to locating the perfect food.
While treating one of Central Asia’s most depraved despots, Kaine is given a little pie to eat – a delicacy reserved for guests of the president. It’s the most delicious thing that’s ever passed the surgeon’s lips, and one that has seemingly miraculous effects.
All of a sudden, Kaine finds that his bald patch is growing over with thick black hair, and that his body is healing itself from the inside out. But, best of all, he realizes that his mental faculties are stimulated in ways he never believed possible. He can write books in a few hours, learn languages in a matter of days, and effortlessly solve problems from world hunger to global warming.
The drawback is that the dictator’s little pies are prepared with human eyes, taken from convicts working in the opal mines. Horrified that he’s unwittingly become a cannibal, Amadeus Kaine can’t think of anything but getting his hands on some more of the illicit specialty.
Obsessed in particular by green eyes, he begins hunting for victims to satisfy his wayward craving. While perfecting his method, he learns to appreciate the subtleties in taste. As he does so, a terrible affliction strikes – Occulosis.
An eye disease that has jumped the species gap from industrialized poultry farming, the virus rips through society, robbing the masses of their sight. The only man who can save the world is the inimitable Dr. Kaine, who is himself on the run.
One of the strangest tales of obsession, mania and intrigue ever told, EYE SPY will quite literally change the way you see the world.
Tahir Shah’s Eye Spy delighted more beyond what I expected. This book’s synopsis caught my eye, and I decided to grab this book from Nerd Girl’s review list. I always keep an eye out for the unexpected, because I feel like those unexpected titles often yield great things. Eye Spy is an unexpected, humorous horror. Tahir weaves a tale so dark that you wouldn’t think you’d enjoy it, but the bursts of humor make this a quirky mix that goes down quite well. The don’t lie when they say you’ll see the world a whole different way after reading this book! I sure am, and I’m loving it!
I’m going to break down my review a little more detailed:
The Cover: This cover is extremely eye catching, not to be punny. It’s got eyes everywhere. It’s visual, and attractive, and makes you wonder what’s going on in the book.
The Plot: The plot of this book develops naturally, it leads you to unexpected places, and gets you there with logic. Tahir’s puts a disclaimer that this book was inspired by a photograph, and he has no real knowledge of eyes, surgery or anything this book basically deals with. He asks that we suspend belief and read the book. This book is so well written, I’d never know that he didn’t research these procedures, diseases and other things we come across in the book. He builds a plot, step after step, and you don’t always see it coming. He weaves a tale, so dark, so far fetched, that it’s so hard to believe it’s true, but the way it’s written, you can’t be quite sure.
The Characters: Dr. Amadeus Kaine, leading eye surgeon and main character of this book, is such a detailed character, well rounded, and intricately built that through the trials of the novel, you can see the character devolve so wonderfully, and turn into a whole other person. The doctor Jekyll/Mr.Hyde complex that we deal with it written so wonderfully that you don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s already happened.
The Writing: Tahir’s writing style is so fluid, you don’t realize how much time you’ve lost in the book. You turn pages, wanting to know more, and never realizing that he has spun you into his web of details. Each detail interlocks to other details, and slowly brings you to the complex conflicts that are littered through the book. You don’t see each plot turn coming, until it hits you in the face. Don’t fret though, you’ll love it. His writing doesn’t leave you wanting more, or less. It gives you the perfect amount of humor, action, horror and suspense. It’s all wrapped up together perfectly.
Overall this novel gave me everything I could’ve wanted. I loved it, I flew through it and didn’t want it to end. The numbering of the chapters to the cover art, everything worked together so perfectly. This isn’t a novel for the squeamish. If you’re a person who faints at blood, or can’t watch a medical drama, this book may not be for you, but for the rest of us, this book was wonderful. I’ve read Silence of the Lambs, as well as Thomas Harris’s books, and this could’ve been among them if not for the wonderful weaving of humor. The action, the suspense and the horror are all reflected that classic style of book! This is definitely a book to check out! I loved reading it and will be super glad to have it on my shelf!
**I was given a copy of this book, by the author, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced by this gesture**
About the Author:
Tahir Shah is the author of fifteen books, many of which chronicle a wide range of outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas. For him, there’s nothing so important as deciphering the hidden underbelly of the lands through which he travels. Shunning well-trodden tourist paths, he avoids celebrated landmarks, preferring instead to position himself on a busy street corner or in a dusty café and observe life go by. Insisting that we can all be explorers, he says there’s wonderment to be found wherever we are – it’s just a matter of seeing the world with fresh eyes.
In the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights, Shah’s first 2013 release, SCORPION SOUP, is a treasury of nested tales. One linking effortlessly into the next, the stories form a cornucopia of lore and values, the kind that has for centuries shaped the cultural landscape of the East. Amusing, poignant, and thoroughly entertaining, the collection stays with you, conjuring a magic all of its own.
Shah’s 2012 novel, TIMBUCTOO, is inspired by a true life tale from two centuries ago. The story of the first Christian to venture to Timbuctoo and back – a young illiterate American sailor – it has been an obsession since Shah discovered it in the bowels of the London Library twenty years ago.
His 2011 collection entitled TRAVELS WITH MYSELF is a body of work as varied and as any, with reportage pieces as diverse as the women on America’s Death Row, to the trials and tribulations of his encounter in a Pakistani torture jail.
Another recent work, IN ARABIAN NIGHTS, looks at how stories are used in cultures such as Morocco, as a matrix by which information, values and ideas are passed on from one generation to the next. That book follows on the heels of the celebrated CALIPH’S HOUSE: A Year in Casablanca, lauded as one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Books of the year.
His other works include an epic quest through Peru’s cloud forest for the greatest lost city of the Incas (HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING), as well as a journey through Ethiopia in search of the source of King Solomon’s gold (IN SEARCH OF KING SOLOMON’S MINES). Previous to that, Shah published an account of a journey through the Amazon on the trail of the Birdmen of the Amazon (TRAIL OF FEATHERS), as well as a book of his experiences in India, as a godman’s pupil (SORCERER’S APPRENTICE).
Tahir Shah’s books have appeared in thirty languages and in more than seventy editions. They are celebrated for their original viewpoint, and for combining hardship with vivid description.
He also makes documentary films, which are shown worldwide on National Geographical Television, and The History Channel. The latest, LOST TREASURE OF AFGHANISTAN, has been screened on British TV and shown worldwide. While researching the programme Shah was arrested along with his film crew and incarcerated in a Pakistani torture jail, where they spent sixteen terrifying days and nights.
His other documentaries include: HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING, SEARCH FOR THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, and THE SEARCH FOR KING SOLOMON’S MINES. And, in addition to documentaries, Shah writes for the big screen. His best known work in this genre is the award-winning Imax feature JOURNEY TO MECCA, telling the tale of the fourteenth century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta’s first pilgrimage to Mecca.
Tahir Shah lives at Dar Khalifa, a sprawling mansion set squarely in the middle of a Casablanca shantytown. He’s married to the graphic designer, Rachana Shah, and has two children, Ariane and Timur. His father was the Sufi writer, Idries Shah.