It was back in July whilst in Harrogate at Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival that I collected a copy of Jo Callaghan’s debut In the Blink of an Eye which has been calling to me ever since.
In the Blink of an Eye was published by Simon and Schuster on 19th January 2023 and is available for purchase through the links here.
In the Blink of an Eye
In the UK, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds.
Just gone. Vanished. In the blink of an eye.
DCS Kat Frank knows all about loss. A widowed single mother, Kat is a cop who trusts her instincts. Picked to lead a pilot programme that has her paired with AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock, Kat’s instincts come up against Lock’s logic. But when the two missing person’s cold cases they are reviewing suddenly become active, Lock is the only one who can help Kat when the case gets personal.
AI versus human experience.
Logic versus instinct.
With lives on the line can the pair work together before someone else becomes another statistic?
In the Blink of an Eye is a dazzling debut from an exciting new voice and asks us what we think it means to be human.
My Review of In the Blink of an Eye
Can Artificial Intelligence help solve crimes?
My goodness. In the Blink of an Eye is brilliant. From the dramatic opening the tension mounts inexorably so that it is impossible to stop reading. The pacy, timed and dated chapters add to the sense of speed and excitement and, especially when the italicised chapters are interspersed, there’s a feeling of dread and menace that is all consuming. If I say that I am not a huge fan of police procedural novels, but that I was so enthralled by In the Blink of an Eye that I was compelled to read on and I thought it was outstanding, then you’ll get a sense of the assured, intelligent, well-researched and skilled writing. Jo Callaghan is going to find herself amongst the most lauded crime writers we have.
I thought the AI premise was such a brilliant concept, feeling scarily plausible and highly effective. As Kat and Lock piece together what has happened to Tyrone and Will, the edginess increases so that the reader has a sickening sensation that they will not be the last two young men to vanish. There’s such a thought-provoking consideration of morality threaded through as the catalyst for the narrative so that even when In the Blink of an Eye is finished, it resonates and unsettles the reader. It’s so hard to articulate without spoiling the story for others but Jo Callaghan provides a mature insight into humanity even as she entertains so effectively.
The characters are multi-dimensional and captivating. There’s enough development of Kat and her team, including Lock, to enable the reader to understand them and why they behave as they do, but equally, there’s such scope for future development that Jo Callaghan leaves the reader utterly desperate for another book featuring them.
Themes embodied in the story are complex, absorbing and challenging, but they are incorporated naturally so that they permeate the reader’s consciousness, making them question their own behavioural parameters. I thought this aspect of In the Blink of an Eye was quite perfect.
In the Blink of an Eye is outrageously good. It will definitely be one of my favourite books in 2023 and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
About Jo Callaghan
Jo works full-time as a senior strategist, where she has carried out research into the future impact of AI and genomics on the workforce. After losing her husband to cancer in 2019, she started writing In The Blink of An Eye. She lives with her two children in the Midlands, where she is currently writing the second novel in the series.
For further information, follow Jo on Twitter @JoCallaghanKat or Instagram.