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Alex Benedict #4

The Devil's Eye

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Nebula Award winner Jack McDevitt is "the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke" (Stephen King).

Interstellar antiquities dealer Alex Benedict receives a cryptic message asking for help from celebrated writer Vicki Greene, who has been mind-wiped. She has no memory of her past life, or of her plea for assistance. But she has transferred an enormous sum of money to Alex, also without explanation. The answers to this mystery lie on the most remote of human worlds, where Alex will uncover a secret connected to a decades-old political upheaval, a secret that somebody desperately wants hidden, though the price of that silence is unimaginable…

368 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Jack McDevitt

187 books1,264 followers
Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. His work has been on the final ballot for the Nebula Awards for 12 of the past 13 years. His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the celebrated Ace Specials series and won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. In 1991, McDevitt won the first $10,000 UPC International Prize for his novella, "Ships in the Night." The Engines of God was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and his novella, "Time Travelers Never Die," was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.

McDevitt lives in Georgia with his wife, Maureen, where he plays chess, reads mysteries and eats lunch regularly with his cronies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 211 reviews
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
554 reviews1,094 followers
January 23, 2019
McDevitt's decision to switch the first person point of view from Alex Benedict (A Talent for War) to Chase Kolpath makes more and more sense as the series progresses. He is able to paint Benedict as an increasingly enigmatic character. I must say that the series is still going from strength to strength despite the rather formulaic approach. Fortunately, McDevitt's universe is vast, and his imagined future history so dense that he has a wealth of possibilities to work with.

He brings some of those possibilities to bear here. I must say he has an interesting approach to Space. Specifically the things that can go wrong on such a vast playing field, and how these events affect individual lives. The Devil’s Eye of the title is no exception. Like in the other Benedict titles, things build up slowly until the great reveal. Inevitably, it is pretty “gosh-wow”. But then, if you’ve been reading the series you wouldn’t expect anything less.

I liked reading more about the “Mutes”. My memory is a bit fuzzy but I don’t think they really featured in Polaris or Seeker.

I recommend this series. It has a lot going for it, and not just the cool John Harris covers. It's pretty old fashioned, but in the best kind of way. 'Sense of Wonder' Sci-Fi mysteries without the tech overkill. I would advise starting at book one (even though they’re all stand-alones, there are lots of references to previous events).
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,103 followers
February 9, 2017
This one took a slightly different turn from the rest of the series, and I think it worked out very well. There was a very, very nice horror subplot going on about an actual horror author, and then it becomes the well-known mystery/space-opera I've gotten to know and love with the rest of the series.

The suspense was killing me. :) Oh, and the horror ideas were quite nice, too. :)

It turned into quite a good mystery with some pretty impressive stakes, and it was actually surprising. I like mysteries that surprise. It didn't continue as a horror, but it was still very satisfying.

I'm very glad to be reading this series. :) Simple, or some not so simple, fun. :)
Profile Image for Michael.
1,231 reviews115 followers
December 29, 2008
Returning from an previous adventure, archaeologist Alex Benedict receives a call from best-selling author Vicki Greene, asking for help and saying that everyone is dead. Benedict tries to contact Greene, only to find she's undergone a full personality wipe--but only after she transferred two million credits into his account. Alex is intrigued and begins to trace the last journey Greene took and to discover whatever drove her or someone else to wipe her personality, effectively killing her.

Before long Benedict discovers that Greene was on the trail of something with large scale political implications for the universe as a whole. The path leads to a planet at the edge of the known universe, famous for its haunted areas. Greene was a best-selling writer of stories about things that go bump in the night, which doubles the intrigue into just what she discovered in her final journey.

McDevitt's fascinating sci-fi novel follows the mold of the Asimov Danell Bailey series, hooking the reader with a murder mystery that opens up the universe he is trying to create and leading to some other, bigger science-fiction issues. At times, were it not for the use of spaceships and other worlds, this story feels like a well written and well executed murder mystery. It's in the second half of the story that some of the bigger sci-fi concepts begin to take over, but not to the extent that we get info dumps or at the sacrifice of the mystery story at hand. The intrigue into what Greene found and how it lead to her death will intrigue you. And along the way, McDevitt does some nice character work and world building.

As a genre, sci-fi has too many books that overstay their welcome either by getting into too much technobabble or following unnecessary plot threads to prove the author knows his or her science. "The Devil's Eye" does neither. Instead it shows off an impressive knowledge of science without grinding the plot to a halt or forgetting why the readers are here in the first place. It stays just long enough to ensure readers will be satisfied by the resolution and it ably sets up the threads to come together in a logical and natural way.
Profile Image for Nick.
218 reviews15 followers
February 13, 2009
Slow going for the first third of this novel, partially because of my unfamiliarity with the characters Mcdevitt had previously introduced in earlier novels. However, the later half of the novel made up for it. Mcdevitt's prose is 'of an age', which to his credit means he does not have to resort to R or X rated lit-candy to attract his readers. No American Psycho in McDevitt's playbook, which is refreshing.

Plot tempo and tinkering with 'standard plot flow' for SF/Mysteries (No spoilers) were successful and added to the enjoyment of this book.

Mcdevitt keeps on pulling me back. From beginning to end, I went from 2 to 4 stars...recommend.
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books272 followers
March 5, 2019
Fourth in the Amystery series featuring interstellar antiquities dealer, Alex Benedict, and his pilot/assistant Chase Kolpath. Returning from a trip to Earth, Alex is greeted by a mysterious message from a famous horror author begging him to help her because "the others are all dead." Problem is when he finally tracks the author down, she had a voluntary mindwipe and left no hints of her problem. Determined to earn the large cash deposit left in his bank account, Alex begins trying to unravel what happened.

The mystery for this was intriguing and on par with the others in the series so far. It was made more fun by the tracing of ghostly stories all over the planet while retracing the author's tracks to solve the mystery.
Profile Image for Lars Dradrach.
858 reviews
December 13, 2017
The strongest book in the series yet.

The switch to Chase as narrator is now a permanent fixture in the series, even though the series carries Benedict’s name, we now only hear about him though her, it’s a nice change to have a female protagonist in a classic sci-fi story.

The story still evolves around a classic mystery novel theme, but the background story here a far richer than in the previous novels.

The narrative are still kept in a deliberate old fashion style, like it was written in the 1960 area, which suits the story very well.
Profile Image for Mike.
1,138 reviews151 followers
June 16, 2018
This is becoming a typical McDevitt story, boring, boring, boring until the last 100 pages and then finally some good stuff. Nearly put the book down several times but I soldiered through and was finally rewarded. The conflict with the Mutes needs some heavy attention, not the casual treatment it seems to get. 3 Stars barely.
Profile Image for Leather.
400 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2018
I liked the previous volume (Seeker), despite some flaws. But if McDevitt's usual flaws are still present in this fourth story of Chase Kolpath and Alex Benedict, the pleasure of reading is once again exceptional.
The story is great (we find in particular a long police investigation and the famous Alien of this universe, the scary Mute) and if some of the twists are predictable, it is not that serious because the sense of wonder takes everything in its path.
So, of course, it is highly unlikely that in four or five thousands years humanity has evolved so little from a sociological point of view. As usual, McDevitt puts the spotlight on the media and politics in his plot. As he often opposes organizations (heartless) to individuals (quite humans, them). The first-person narrative, of the fake diary type, may also annoy some readers (this series of McDevitt is narrated from the point of view Chase, which is a kind of fake Watson, somehow ordinary brillant) .
But the intelligence of the subject, the message of tolerance and the lucid look on human nature are still rarely approached from this angle in science fiction. And that kind of benevolent optimism that bathes the book is something very rare.
There is both an old scool side and a very modern side in McDevitt's work, it's atypical science fiction, somewhere between Gaston Leroux's Rouletabille and Peter F. Hamilton. A charming mixture.
For my part I loved it! Very much!
Profile Image for Cornerofmadness.
1,683 reviews10 followers
February 14, 2010

Okay, let me preface this with saying it’s the fourth in the series and I haven’t read the first three (Library doesn’t have them and neither did the book club). Often with mysteries though, that’s not entirely necessary. This started out as a good mystery, really it did. It suffered from having the blandest characters ever, like almost no character details exist. All I know is Alex Benedict (these are Alex Benedict mysteries even though it’s told first person from his female partner…) likes antiques (though you only see that twice in almost 500 pages) and Chase Kolpath, our narrator is a star pilot. Literally that’s about all you get in the way of character development.

Still, I would have rated this higher than I did if the thing didn’t fall apart mid-way. The last 150 pages were slow, dull and so unnecessarily drawn out. It starts out with Vicki Greene, a worlds famous horror writer sending Alex a cryptic message needing his help and that ‘my god, they’re all dead.’ When Alex and Chase look into it they find out Vicki has advanced him 2 million dollars and she has had her mind completely erased. Basically Vicki is dead and is someone totally new now.

Most people, including Chase, would have either taken the money and not bothered or returned the money to the family since the client is ‘dead.’ (And since I am coming in mid series I have NO idea why anyone would ask this sort of help from an antiquities dealer) Alex decides to investigate, leading him and Chase out to Salud Afar, the last place Vicki had been, a planet way out there with no stars in the sky but one. It’s a place known for its ghost stories, a natural for a horror writer.

As they follow in her footsteps, Chase and Alex honestly have no idea why the author was compelled to erase her existence. Finally, as they poke through the history behind the ghost stories, the answer reveals itself, ending up with Chase and Alex both captured by the government and in line for mind blocks of their own. Escaping, they do contact some other authorities with their findings…and that’s when you realize there’s over 150 pages left to go and the mystery is solved. You’re then in for politics for the remaining third of the book. I hate politics and to me this just fell apart here.

But it fell apart for reasons beyond the politics. I just don’t understand the whole motive of Vicki Greene. Without giving anything away, let’s put it this way, Alex and Chase get the solution underway with ONE call to the press. Um what? Everyone is lauding Vicki’s self sacrifice to bring this mystery to light but when you look at it, it makes no sense. There was no guarantee Alex would take the case in the first place. We’re not sure if the gov. took away vital parts of Vicki’s memory (but you assume they did but not enough to keep her from understanding something was bad and getting Alex involved) But honestly think of it this way. Greene is the J.K. Rowling of her day. Who would get the press and the people motivated to help more? Rowling or an antiques dealer (and for the love of pete, antiques never even come into this)? The whole plot hinges on the idea of someone like Rowling killing herself in hopes someone might notice and investigate what she wants them to investigate…uh…what? Instead of heroic sacrifice I saw stupidity in abundance. I don’t get the accolades for this one. It’s just not that good.

Profile Image for Lisa H..
247 reviews14 followers
November 17, 2011
Different from the other Alex Benedict/Chase Kolpath books I've read previously (I'm a bit perturbed that this series is still referred to as the Alex Benedict books, because only the first was written from his viewpoint, and frequently Benedict has been not much more than a somewhat eccentric sidekick to narrator Kolpath). Usually Benedict has picked up a hint of the whereabouts of some major historical artifact, or an untouched cache of objects from an ancient star-faring race, or some other irresistably fabulous potential score, and he and Kolpath go haring off after it, untangling various mysteries in the process.

In The Devil's Eye, the mystery is the main story - why a celebrated horror writer would pay Benedict a huge sum of money, with no explanation, and immediately thereafter have her entire memory and personality irretrievably wiped away. Benedict is uncharacteristically compelled to backtrack the writer's recent history, traveling to a planet on the far edge of the galaxy and seeking to uncover what led her to take such a drastic step. Along the way we get a more detailed look at the future society in which they live, where remote worlds develop social structures that bear only a cursory resemblance to those closer to "civilization", and underlying distrust of an alien race of disquietingly un-human appearance can erupt quickly into armed hostilities with the potential to destroy both sides.

With the initial mystery "solved" just past the halfway point of the book, I was a little confused about where McDevitt was taking us, and was intrigued when, rather than introduce a second mystery or reveal that the original solution was wrong, he simply chose to explore how Alex and Chase's actions play out and their impact on the planet.
Profile Image for Kerry.
1,517 reviews87 followers
February 5, 2011
After a long summer holiday of minding a seven year old, my CFS-afflicted brain isn't up to much. He's back at school now, but that just means my body has finally let itself collapse for a while.

This means I'm struggling to read and flitting around between books at a rapid pace as I try to find something I can stick with.

I've always enjoyed the Alex Benedict books and their blend of SF and mystery and so I decided to give this one a try. The first half is typical for the series and Chase and Alex try to figure out what's going on. But this time, the mystery was solved about halfway through and the second half of the book became a lot more political as they tried to help with the aftermath of what they'd done.

I can see what McDevitt was probably trying to do here, to make more use of the universe he's created that just as a backdrop for a mystery. The aliens of the piece are much more involved here (they reminded me a lot of Vel from Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax books, although I'm pretty sure McDevitt invented his first) and there's a much wider scope of avoiding a way and saving billions of lives.

It works for what it's doing I guess, but it isn't what I sat down to read. I was just wanting a nice Chase and Alex antiquity mystery and instead I got all this other stuff. Like I said, it wasn't bad, but not what I was after. I'm now feeling a little cautious about the next in the series, but I know I'll get to it eventually.
Profile Image for David.
2,559 reviews81 followers
January 24, 2015
Can't believe I waited so long to read this. Guess I've had this sitting here for six years! Really seems quite impossible. Well, it's I'm sure not going to wait that long to read the next book. I'm not sure if my brain will last that long, given my medical condition. Think I'm a timer now. Going to have to shake up what I read a bit.

Personal stuff aside, I really enjoyed rejoining Alex and Chase for another mystery to solve and an adventure to be had. The previous 2 books of the series, SEEKER and POLARIS, blew my SF mind. The story here is not so awe-inspiring but is still very good. Had bit of a problem that the big mystery is solved rather early, at about page 200 and the remainder of the novel follows on problem-solving, albeit one on a monumental scale.

The Mutes figure well into the book and I loved learning more about them, the only other sentient species with technology in the Benedict Universe. The mystery involves horror novelist, Vicki Green and most of the action takes place on a world outside the Galaxy and is full of haunted forests, mad scientists, werewolves and other marvelous tourist attractions.

Works fine as a stand alone, but I recommend the full series.

Profile Image for Craig.
5,142 reviews122 followers
December 29, 2012
Wow, I really liked this one! It's a novel in the Alex Benedict/Chase Kolpath series, but Chase is far and away the star in this one. Archaeology takes a back seat to contemporary mystery, but politics and cultural relations are also examined. Alex and Chase set off to discover what happened to Vicki Greene, a famous horror fiction writer, and each chapter is headed by an excerpt from one of her books. Along the way there are lots of interstellar adventures, cosmic disaster, political intrigue, and negotiation with telepathic (!) aliens. There's a brief, poignant coda at the end that was amazingly thought-provoking. This was the best hard-sf novel that I've read in years.
Profile Image for Carl.
197 reviews48 followers
February 27, 2010
This was my first Jack McDevitt novel, and I'm looking forward to reading more. Far future, galactic civilization setting for detective novels in which the main character is a dealer in art and artifacts. Not hard sci fi by any stretch of the imagination (the main lesson I take from this is that in tens of thousands of years human culture, social norms and infrastructure will be exactly the same as now), but very entertaining and fun, like this sort of SF should be.
Profile Image for Dale Russell.
407 reviews7 followers
March 18, 2023
Interstellar Antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his partner...and star pilot...Chase Kolpath, are known throughout the galaxy as the #1 hunters and purveyors of artifacts lost in time and memory. They continually are being pursued and contracted to find that "one missing item" for collectors across space. So it's not too strange when they receive a message from celebrated horror writer Vicki Greene asking for help. But that soon ends when they read the troubling few last words...“God help me, they’re all dead.” But what starts out as an interesting business proposition soon turns into so much more, when the author is discovered to have had a complete personality and memory erase leaving two completely in the dark and two million credits for in their account and no clue what they were being asked to help uncover.

Alex and Chase soon find themselves on a path that will take them to one of the most remote parts of the known galaxy, and a discovery that could mean the death of an entire world.

Jack McDevitt is arguably one of the leading story tellers today in the genre of Science Fiction. His stories always take his readers across untold numbers of light-years, from the past to the future, and everywhere in-between. This is the 4th book in his series of Alex Benedict’s and Chase Kolpath’s adventures. Somehow I had missed this entry, thinking that I had read the entire series to-date...or so I thought. As usual, McDevitt’s story is full of both adventure, mystery, intrigue, and, in this case, a heavy helping of political commentary about the dealings...and failings...of government in general.

THE DEVIL’S EYE is another great book from a great author!!!
Profile Image for Tomislav.
1,002 reviews69 followers
May 21, 2020
This is the fourth in a series featuring private starship pilot Chase Kolpath, and her boss Alex Benedict, the antiquities trader. A Talent for War was a fantastic book filled with subtlety and historical references. The next few sequels, while still pretty good reads seem more along the lines of "the-further-adventures-of" stories. If you're interested in these books, you might as well start at the beginning, although they really could be read in any order. In this one, Alex and Chase receive a cryptic message from a famous writer shortly before she signs up to have her memories wiped. Following slim leads, they retrace her steps to Salud Afar, an Earth-like human-settled world 20,000 light years outside the rim of the galaxy. There, they unravel the mystery of what it is she learned, that led her to chose something nearly indistinguishable from suicide.

About 100 pages from the end, they solve the mystery, but then get stuck on the planet by a government edict that even I could have predicted - and then find themselves embroiled in a quite different situation involving the telepathic alien race briefly mentioned in the beginning of the book. Now, this second plot is also action-oriented, and I enjoyed Chase's interactions with the telepaths - but still it was an odd transition, and plot structure.
Profile Image for Scott Holstad.
Author 22 books65 followers
August 11, 2015
This book turned out to be a real disappointment and I think the author did a pretty poor job on it, which is very unlike him. I normally love Jack McDevitt books and I love the Alex Benedict series, starring Alex and his assistant and pilot, Chase. They're into finding and selling very expensive antiques to rich clients. The basic premise of the book had promise, but the author kind of blew it by writing two different books in one. And by making it pretty unrealistic in the process.

Alex and Chase have been visiting old Earth for the first time with two Mute friends, aliens who are telepaths and are considered repugnant by humans. Of course, they consider humans to be repugnant. However, these four get along. On their way home, Alex gets a transmission from author Vicki Greene, asking for his help, stating that "they are all dead." And that's about all there is. Alex is bothered by this, while Chase is ready to forget about it. Until they get home and find that Vicki has wired two million credits into Alex's bank account. Now Alex feels an obligation to help her, somehow.

Vicki Greene is a well known horror writer who pumps out a book a year. She's spent the past year on a far off planet called Salud Afar which is well known for supernatural occurrences -- hauntings, werewolves, etc. Good stuff to start your next horror book with. However, when she gets home, she doesn't seem to be herself, seems a little depressed, and when Alex tries to contact her, has disappeared. He eventually finds her brother and they talk. Turns out Vicki has voluntarily mind wiped herself, a process usually reserved for hardened criminals. It's basically murder. Your life is over. You have no more memories. You start over as a blank slate with a new life. Alex and Chase find out the psychiatric institute that did this process, but the administration and doctors there won't tell them anything about why she would do this or where she is now. So, what to do?

They decide to go to Salud Afar and trace her steps to see what she could have found out that was so disturbing that she mind wiped herself. They arrive and play tourist. They ask questions. They start getting some interesting answers and then ... they're kidnapped. By cops. They escape, barely, but Alex is caught again while Chase gets away and heads for a taxi to take it up to her ship. They've discovered something important happened on an asteroid and there's something important about the lone star in the system. She goes with a friend and his wife to the asteroid. And finds nothing. But then finds something in space which explains everything. When she gets back to the planet, the corrupt cops contact her and she tells them every news agency on the planet will have her news in an hour unless she gets Alex back. She does. And Alex had guessed what the mystery was.

And this is one of the book's problems. Halfway through the book, the book's mystery is solved. It's over. What to do now? Politics! Yeah, that's what I'll do, thinks McDevitt. So, that's what he does.

There are skirmishes between the humans and the Mutes in space, leading to wrecked space ships and casualties. It looks like war is imminent. But the head of Salud Afar asks Alex and Chase to go to the Mute's capital as diplomats to try and get them to agree to a cease fire, so that the humans will also agree to a cease fire. The goal is to get the human fleet to the planet to aid in evacuating it before disaster strikes in three years. And so Alex and Chase go. And Chase gets interviewed by a major celebrity, which everyone sees. As a result, the Mutes declare a cease fire and eventually the humans do too. Then the humans announce the fleet is on the way. And they send 11 ships. Eleven. WTF? They're holding back to attack the Mutes. Alex and Chase return to Salud Afar, which is incredibly stupid, because their ship had already been impounded for the next three years to aid in the evacuation and they were going to be held as virtual prisoners on that planet. So instead of going home to their freedom, they head back to that planet. Real bright. And their ship is impounded again. They resign themselves to spending the next three years of their lives there. Let me tell you, they handle the news better than I would. I have to say, it's pretty unrealistic. I think the author did a pretty piss poor job with this. I would have been livid with the government. I would have gone ballistic. Alex and Chase just go Yeah. So, shock of all shocks, the Mute fleet arrives, along with tons of individual Mute ships, to aid in the evacuation! Chase's interview had really gotten through to them. So now they're heroes on the planet. And they get their ship back. And next thing you know, the actual full human fleet is on its way to help out too. And the planet is saved. And all is right in the universe. And the second half of the book had very little to do with the first half.

And here's what I consider to be the one major problem of the book, and that's its original premise. Why would a successful author whose memory has been partially wiped, on her return to her home world, want help? What kind of help? Why not from the government? Their version of the FBI, CIA? How about private Is? How about mercenaries? Of all people, why does she turn to an antique dealer for help and transfer two million to his bank account before he does anything? It literally makes no sense whatsoever. It's stupid. And then, after contacting Alex for help, she's moved to go get a mind wipe and virtually end her life as she knows it. To what end? For what purpose? To draw attention to what she found on Salud Afar? If so, it seems like a stupid way to do it. I think McDevitt must have been drunk off his ass when he wrote this book, or wrote so much of it, that when he realized how bad it was, it was too far along to ditch it, so he finished it, knowing it was trash and sold it to us, the readers, as a normal Alex Benedict book. And I'm annoyed by that. Very annoyed. Normally I give his books four or five stars, but this book gets two and it's definitely NOT recommended.
Profile Image for Chris Nagy.
57 reviews
May 20, 2017
I might just have to wait a long time before I read another McDevitt book.
Mr. McDevitt has generally one good idea per novel, but the writing is so bland that it makes reading a tiresome duty. I had trouble finishing it. I almost gave up and began skimming through a lot.
A big problem is that he is downright corny at times and there is too much boring dialogue and at times couldn't figure out who was speaking or maybe it was I just didn't care.
It's too bad because I liked some of the Hutchins books, but the Benedict series is a bust. And it's not really about Alex Benedict, but his pilot Chase Kolpath.
Sorry if this seems harsh, but these books are pretty bad.
Profile Image for James Mourgos.
281 reviews20 followers
October 15, 2014
The Devil’s Eye

I’m really enjoying these Jack McDevitt novels, regardless of the somewhat familiar formula of these stories. This is the fourth book I’ve read in the Alex Benedict stories.

Alex and his assistant (and sometimes lover) Chase, run Rainbow Enterprises, a company that specializes in buying and selling (and acquiring at archeological sites) special items of historic significance for sale and profit.

But Devil’s Eye diverges from this and has Alex trying to solve a mystery. A mystery that leads to the lives of a planet. That’s all I can say without ruining the plot!

Story and Plot:

Vickie Greene, horror novelist 9,000 years in our future, a contemporary of Alex and Chase, sends a cryptic message when Alex is returning from an adventure on the Belle Marie, a ship run by an AI (artificial intelligence). Vickie says “they’re all dead.” What’s it mean? Is Vickie on the verge of mental collapse? Or something more?

Our heroes discover Vickie had her personality replaced – contact with her brother reveals no information as to why, but that is pretty serious, as a mind wipe is usually reserved for criminals and malcontents.

Why would Vickie do this? Perhaps the answer lies on the planet Salud Afar, a planet that is at the far reaches of the galaxy, with no moon and not a lot of stars except for one particularly bright one that Vickie called “The Devil’s Eye.”

The story has humor, as when Chase goes topless at a swimming pool and the men applaud. Hilarious. And her usual string of boyfriends who lament that she’s gone so long piloting through the galaxy with her employer.

As in other novels, they have their lives threatened more than once and are urged to abandon their investigation but that makes them even more determined to find out who is trying to kill them and solve the mystery of Vickie Greene.

Bottom Line:

The story does not end at its natural conclusion but tries to wrap up all its points at once near the end – a method that makes the story seemed rushed.

However, the story runs well overall, not too many slow points as in earlier McDevitt novels, and it’s always a pleasure to imagine another Chase/Alex adventure.


Profile Image for astaliegurec.
984 reviews
June 29, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Not Very Good
November 9, 2010

Jack McDevitt's "The Devil's Eye" has problems:

- The writing is done from the point of view of the supposed side-kick Chase Kolpath, but the supposed brains of the outfit is Alex Benedict. The end result of this is that most the the activities are described well, but the thought processes leading to them are not.
- Even though she's supposed to be the side-kick, most of the story actually revolves around Chase. Alex could have been replaced with an inflatable dinosaur and it would have made hardly a ripple in the plot. There's almost no character development (or character, at all) with either character.
- The first half of the book is a mystery investigation that covers a good part of a planet with the pointless introduction of multitudes of sites and characters. Once the mystery is solved, the remainder of the book turns into a juvenile treatment of politics and the military in an effort to solve a crisis. Except for the initial victim, Vicki Greene, there's really no connection between the two plots.
- And, finally, once most of the problems are moved out of the way, McDevitt finishes the book by skipping ahead in time and providing little summaries of what happened in the course of avoiding that big crisis. The stuff he skips over really should have been the meat of the book.

So, overall, I have to rate the book at a Not Very Good 2 stars out of 5. If you have to read it, get it from the library.
48 reviews2 followers
October 9, 2011
This is the fourth Alex Benedict novel. It is more a mystery than a sci-fi book and I suspect will be liked more as a mystery novel in a futuristic setting than as a sci-fi book. I liked the characters; the book held my interest, and I will continue to be attracted to Alex Benedict novels in the future. In general, I like hard sci-fi because it can explore the ramifications of speculative settings, technologies, or social situations. This does not do that to any great extent. If you are strictly a hard sci-fi reader this is not the book for you. But as sci-fi broadly construed it is an interesting tale well done.
1,647 reviews17 followers
July 6, 2015
McDevitt can plot like few others, weaving themes and action into a compelling story.
Profile Image for Lianne Pheno.
1,217 reviews70 followers
March 2, 2018

Encore un tome vraiment très sympa et un peu différent des précédents.

Alex Benedict et Chase Kolpath, son assistante et pilote, sont chasseurs de trésors archéologiques. L'humain étant ce qu'il est il y a eu de nombreuse ères successives dans l'histoire humaine où des civilisations se sont étendues avant de sombrer, laissant derrières elles de nombreux lieux oubliés. Alex et Chase parcourent la galaxie en recherchant des stations abandonnées depuis des siècles ou des planètes remplies de ruines car devenues inhabitables et perdues et gagnent leur vie en vendant ensuite une partie du butin obtenu.

Alors qu'Alex et Chase sont en vacances avec des amis, ils reçoivent un message énigmatique d'une autrice célèbre. Une fois rentré chez eux ils s'aperçoivent que celle ci leur a viré une somme d'argent très importante, comme si elle avait une mission à leur donner alors qu'elle ne leur a fourni aucun indice lors de son message. Ils décident d'essayer d'en savoir plus et apprennent que celle ci a depuis subit une opération qui permet d’effacer totalement les souvenirs d'une personne pour lui donner une nouvelle vie.

Il n'en faut pas plus pour qu'Alex décide de passer en mode enquête, il pense que l'argent est un appel à l'aide. Surtout quand il fini par apprendre par son chirurgien qu'elle avait subit un blocage artificiel de souvenir peu de temps avant. Cette opération, totalement illégale, empêche la personne qui l'a subie de parler d'un de ses souvenirs. Mais quel souvenir si terrible a pu contraindre cette autrice très célèbre et très riche à vouloir totalement recommencer sa vie à zéro plutôt que de le garder sans pouvoir en parler? Alex et Chase ont bien l'intention de le découvrir ...

Vous l'avez compris, cette enquête ci ne concerne pas des antiquités mais une personne et ce qu'elle a pu découvrir quelques mois avant et que certaines personnes ne voulaient pas qu'elle découvre. On sors donc totalement du contexte de recherche historique, de fouille dans les archives ou autre. Cette enquête va avoir de grosses répercutions aussi bien politiques qu'humaines et déclencher un processus bien plus gros que tout ce qu'ils avaient pu imaginer.

La structure du livre aussi est différente car le mystère est trouvé relativement rapidement, un peu après le milieu du livre et donc toute la suite traite de ce qu'il se passe après et les implications politiques et humaines de la découverte.
J'ai trouvé ça très intéressant pour une fois de voir ce qu'il se passait après, tout ce que ça allait changer et comment Alex et Chase apportent leurs compétences sur cette partie la.

Ce que j'aime beaucoup dans cette série c'est la façon dont l'auteur a d'intégrer des phénomènes ou événements astronomiques dans son intrigue et leur effet sur le temps qui passe en terme de vie humaine. Il joue très souvent avec et moi qui aime beaucoup ce domaine, je suis servie, c'est un sujet qui me parle.

Au niveau de l'intrigue j'ai bien aimé le fait qu'on suive les faits et geste d'une autrice d'horreur. Du coup elle visite plein de lieux hantés et c'est vraiment drôle de voir Alex et Chase dans ce genre de situation, j'ai bien rigolé.
On a aussi une part importante de l'histoire qui parle des Mutes qui sont les extraterrestres avec qui les humains sont en contact. Si pour l'instant les deux peuples sont en paix, on sent pourtant la tension monter tout au long du livre, comme si la guerre allait repartir. J'aime beaucoup les interaction avec eux et découvrir toujours plus de détails sur ce qu'ils sont et leur façon de vivre.

Au final une enquête un peu différente des précédents, mais toujours aussi sympa à lire, j'ai passé un excellent moment !

Profile Image for Tim Martin.
744 reviews46 followers
September 5, 2012
_The Devil's Eye_ is in my opinion the best of the Alex Benedict novels by Jack McDevitt (well, I haven't read the very latest, _Firebird_). Though I don't think it necessary for a new reader to have read the previous volumes in the series some of the references made to past events won't mean as much if they had not been read first.

As with the first three books, _The Devil's Eye_ focuses on two individuals, Alex Benedict, renown interstellar antiquities dealer, and his capable assistant Chase Kolpath. The book is told from Chase's point of view (as are all but the first book in the series if memory serves). Their setting is one in which the galaxy has been settled for thousands of years, with entire planetary civilizations and interplanetary empires having risen, fallen, risen again, and in some cases falling into legend and myth. The author succeeds in creating a galaxy-wide civilization with a real sense of a depth of history.

This book, though very much faithful to the feel and tone of the series, made some significant (and in no way negative) departures from the first novels in the series. Earlier in the series it had always been some discovery, some famous archaeological artifact, lost treasure, ship, colony, or the like that got the story moving along, of the chance for Alex and Chase to both solve some endearing mystery that has bedeviled histories as well as perhaps to make some lucrative discoveries (as Alex is after all an antiquities dealer, not a museum curator).

This time however the initial thing that moves Alex and Chase to begin their latest adventures is not a famous lost ship, not a nearly legendary lost colony, but a celebrated horror writer. A living one, one that left a cryptic message for Alex and Chase when they were vacationing on Earth. The message was difficult to understand; all the two protagonists could tell was that this writer, a woman by the name of Vicki Greene, was nearly scared to death, believed herself to be in deep trouble, her recorded message closing with the rather worrying "God help me, they're all dead."

When they got back to their home on Rimway, Alex and Chase followed up on Ms. Greene, wanting more information, why she felt she was in such trouble, who was dead (and why), and why did she contact them of all people. To their great sadness they find that Vicki Greene had been mind-wiped. Of her own choice. Whatever horror that scared her so much, whatever it was that was going to kill (or had killed) people, it was now lost to them. Vicki Greene was effectively dead; her body and brain survived quite well and in time would reenter society as a brand new person with a new identity, with no memory whatsoever of her past (and also legally protected from being found and interviewed by those who knew her as Vicki Greene).

Having found that Vicki had left a very large deposit in Alex's bank account and intrigued by the mystery, Alex and Chase begin a very frustrating investigation. They found she left precious few clues as to what it was that had so scared her that she preferred a mind-wipe. All trails lead to a recent trip she had returned from, to the planet Salud Afar, one of the most isolated human-settled worlds, a planet on the very edge of the galaxy. Indeed, it was 20,000 light-years from the rim and practically in intergalactic space.

The planet had a history and atmosphere that might very well attract a horror writer. Settled for 4,000 years, it had been for nearly six hundred years under a worldwide government called the Bandahr, ruled by the same family, the Cleevs, until relatively recently when they were finally overthrown by a revolution and democracy took hold. There were many sites around Salud Afar where one might find haunted buildings, haunted forests, haunted rivers, and other such places, some directly relating to the Bandahr's actions, others perhaps as Alex speculates invented by the people "as an escape mechanism and maybe reassurance at the same time, because they know vampires don't exist...and they aren't nearly as terrible as what they face in real life but don't dare talk about."

Equally interesting to a horror writer is the nature of the night skies of Salud Afar. Knocked out of the galaxy in the distant past, the system that contained Salud Afar lost some of its members. Salud Afar lost its moon, so its skies do not have the light reflected off of any natural satellite. In fact, only two stars shine in the night sky. One is actually a planet, one known as Sophora, the other is a blue super giant, Callistra, located 1200 light-years away. Except for the luminous rim of the galaxy visible in dark skies in some areas, the sky is otherwise completely and utterly dark at all times. Only sapphire blue Callistra shone in the night, its rising and setting tied to many legends and folktales on Salud Afar.

Alex and Chase travel to Salud Afar, finding out just what had so scared Vicki Greene into take the drastic steps that she took. The investigations take them all over the world, meeting with a wide variety of people. More physical action takes place in this book than in the previous others (not a bad thing mind you). Interestingly, once they found out just what it is that so haunted Vicki, that seems like only the beginning of the story as our two heroes get deeply involved in a far scarier horror than some mere haunted forest.

A really outstanding book, I think it is the best of an overall excellent series. McDevitt made good use of some of the story elements of this particular fictional universe and the ending kept me guessing, I was never entirely sure how it was going to turn out.

Reading some revies here and elsewhere, I think some of the critics are a bit unfair to the series. Yes, sometimes the book has a very contemporary feel to it, with on the one hand flying cars, hyperspace, and one known sentient alien race, but on the other hand feels more like our world with TV shows, plays, local governments, etc. In essence, there is no Singularity as such in this setting, as in Vinge's or Stross's (and I am sure others) works. There are humans that are hard to understand in the series, but they are the humans of the past (the whole the past is a foreign country thing), humans of another culture, not the unimaginable (and unrelatable) superhumans of a trule post-Singularity civilization.

To that, I say, so what? There are plenty of aspects of our world that have more in common with the world centuries ago, so why can't that exist in the future? Why should the Singularity change everything in the sense that poeple might not for instance want to a play or have a local, hands-on government or the like? Does that feel too "normal?" What would you have them do?

Then of course, there is the whole relatable thing. The author is clearly writing a mystery series set in space, with science fiction, though vital, more the background and the setting. Other authors explore truly alien futures; this author has a different focus.

A good series and my favorite in a series with no bad books, they are great diversion and I look forward to reading the latest (and hopefully not the last) in the series. I would recommend them to anyone, either science fiction fan or mystery fan.
Profile Image for Jack Vasen.
894 reviews6 followers
January 20, 2021
This book in the Alex Benedict series tells a complete story and could stand alone. There are references to events in earlier books, but they aren't big in the context of this story. There are no obvious loose threads for later books.

A lot happens and yet at times it drags a little as some sections are drawn out. Mostly the former, it keeps moving. The mystery laid out in the beginning is revealed a little past half way. The rest of the book is about dealing with that revelation. Solving the mystery leads Alex and Chase into serious danger. After the revelation the tension is more political with one more shot at danger toward the end.

I guess I'm trying to say that as a whole it didn't get stale. A lot of what happened wasn't that predictable, but I guessed at what was probably the major event of the climax.

I've seen criticisms that JM doesn't do a great job of world building. I think the world building is sufficient for the story, but he frequently throws in background references to either the science or the history which are matter of fact despite being new to the reader.

Alex isn't quite an Indiana Jones. He's more of a business man with a detective's mind. Chase is a little like Watson in Sherlock Holmes stories. She narrates, but she also contributes. In this book, she is possibly more responsible for the outcome than Alex, even if he orchestrated some of her contributions.

I didn't like the epilogue. I agreed with the character who opposed what they were about to do.

Mature themes: there's no sex described. There is the threat of murder and some scenes of fighting one of which includes Chase being forced to partially undress. I don't know why that was necessary. It's a book, not a movie. There are references to mind alterations especially as regarding the ability to act on certain memories. (I find mind alterations to be one of the most distasteful themes in fiction.)
Profile Image for Michael Smith.
1,741 reviews51 followers
March 12, 2020
This is the fourth in McDevitt’s series featuring antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his pilot and sidekick, Chase Kolpath (who seems to have taken over duties as the narrator), and it isn’t quite as good as the first three, in my opinion. It starts out with Alex coming back to Rimway, on the edge of the galaxy, from a trip and finding a holographic message (this is 10,000 years in the future) from famous author of horror novels Vicki Greene, asking for his help -- but not actually saying with what. Then he discovers she’s been brain-wiped, at her own request. She’s still alive and physically healthy, but her personality and memories are gone. What could possibly have led her to such semi-suicide? Alex then finds she’s made a large deposit in his credit account, so he feels an obligation to find out what happened. And that eventually leads him and Chase to the world of Salud Afar, which is thousands of light years out in intergalactic space, a place with only one visible star, aside from their own sun. Greene apparently went to Salud Afar in search of atmosphere for her novels. It’s a world with lots of haunted forests and spooks and various other supernatural legends, and it has also been a republic for only a generation after centuries of a single family’s dictatorial rule. This first part of the story is, frankly, not very satisfactory. It’s hard to image where the story is going, being so different from the previous three books. Much of it is also more than a little silly.

But then, almost exactly halfway through, the story changes completely and the plot becomes one of planetary politics and astronomical mysteries and world-threatening crisis. And the book becomes far more enjoyable. I guess the point here is to endure the first half, if you can, in order to get to the second half. McDevitt is generally a pretty good author, but everyone has bad days.
29 reviews
October 11, 2021
There's something comforting about Jack McDevitt's "space mysteries". They're well written and unfold at a relatively slow and leisurely pace but the worlds painted are always familiar and comfortable even if they're light years away and thousand of years in the future. This isn't cyberpunk, its homely 1990s mid-west america spread across the stars - the people (and aliens) would all be just as home in an episode of Dallas. That may sounds like a criticism but its really not, since I enjoy the books. With the demand to make the aliens "alien" or the future-human civilisations really any different from our own seemingly off the table, you can relax into the familiar and focus instead on the "detective"/mystery element in comfort. I don't think its great literature, but its a satisfying read and well constructed. You can enjoy Jack McDevitt I suspect even if you're not generally into science fiction at all. In terms of his canon, this is solid - not as good as for example "A Talent for War", but a very well plotted offering and a good, sound read.
Profile Image for Andrea.
465 reviews9 followers
May 8, 2018
These books are getting quite addictive for me! This book was a little disappointing compared to the others. The central mystery is about 60% of the book: it's fun, intriguing, and has Alex & Chase doing their usual piecing of the clues together to end up at the ultimate shocker. The other 40% is less interesting, a more political storyline that becomes tedious after a while (you can pretty much guess how it will end). So while I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book, I couldn't get over how the end half dragged - so 3 stars it is.

Favorite Quote:
We don’t fear death because we lose tomorrow, but because we lose yesterday, with its sweet poignancy, its memories of growing children, of friends and lovers, of all that we have known. Nobody else has really been there in the way we have. And when the lights go out for us, for you or me, the lights go out in that world, too.
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