Review of “The Devil’s Eye” by Jack McDevitt

In the past I have liked SciFi author Jack McDevitt enough to keep on the alert for his new books, but this one was a disappointment.

There are two main plots intertwining in this episode of what I call “The Amazing Adventures of the Renowned Antiquities Expert Alex Benedict and His Assistant, The Girl Wonder (and Navigator) Chase Kolpath.” One plot concerns the suspicion and hostility between the humans and the other major sentient species in the Universe: The Ashyyur, or Mutes as they are called by humans. The Mutes, great big insect-resembling creatures, are telepathic and so have no need to speak. They are able to communicate with humans by using voice boxes but it is an imperfect system. Moreover, humans resent the invasion of their private thoughts by Mutes, and their ability to know other humans far better than humans could ever know each other.

This particular plot line had a lot of possibilities, but was largely glossed over. [For a terrific look at the repercussions when one group can read minds and one group can’t, I recommend The Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness, which includes The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and The Answer, and Monsters of Men.]

The second plot line is the investigation into the mysterious message left for Alex by horror writer Vicki Greene, right after she left Alex a large sum of money, and right before she had her memory wiped, virtually ending her life as Vicki Greene. To get to the bottom of the message, Alex and Chase travel to the far off world of Salud Afar, Vicki’s last known location. On this planet, there are few stars at night, except for the hazy rim of the Milky Way; the far off planet Sophora; and the bright but vastly distant supergiant Callistra, also known as The Devil’s Eye. The Devil’s Eye has great symbolic importance on Salud Afar.

While trying to solve the mystery, Alex and Chase have their lives endangered and become involved in a political can of worms when they discover Vicki’s secret and why all her memories were erased.

Unlike the first plot line, this second plot line wasn’t neglected, except by the Editor. It dragged on interminably, and seemed full of extraneous political machinations of the kind that Asimov or Herbert knew how to make relevant but McDevitt hasn’t mastered. I was ready to be done with this book long before the author.

Evaluation: This book is okay, but probably more interesting for those who are already fans of the Alex and Chase series than for new readers.

Rating: 2.5/5

Published by Ace Hardcover, 2008

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8 Responses to Review of “The Devil’s Eye” by Jack McDevitt

  1. Julie P. says:

    Terrific review with lots of good points. This book just doesn’t sound like my kind of book even if it were wonderful. I’ve tried, and Sci-fi isn’t my favorite genre (not even close!)

  2. bermudaonion says:

    I’m not familiar with this series, so I’ll skip this one. Thanks for the review.

  3. Aarti says:

    I like your version of the title much more than the original one! I am trying to get more into reading science fiction and am hoping to make my first foray into the genre this month! Probably not with this series, though 🙂

  4. Marie says:

    Oof, probably not my thing. thanks for hte review!

  5. Jenners says:

    I think I’ll try that Ness series … lots of people keep raving about it!

  6. ds says:

    Don’t know this series. Just stopped by to say that we do have the Marian Anderson book you featured a few days ago–and I included it in a display of books for Women’s History Month. Perhaps someone will borrow it. It is gorgeous!

  7. Mike says:

    I have actually enjoyed this series. My experience with McDevitt is that he tends to write to a certain point and leaves you to figure out what happened next. With this particular series he does seem to reveal more. Of all the books in this series I think this one is the best. I personally prefer his Priscilla Hutchins series. His books feel more like a mystery novel set in space than a normal sci-fi book. Maybe that’s just me.

  8. DK says:

    I’m only partway through and getting bored. Once Chase noticed Salud Afar’s ocean was silent because the planet doesn’t have a moon, I realised I wasn’t reading a science fiction book. The moon causes tides, not ordinary surf waves. For the ocean to be still and silent would require no wind, not no moon. Such a simple mistake took me further out of a story that was already failing to grip my attention.

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