Eyes of a Child by Richard North Patterson is a murder mystery thriller. It was slow to start but by the end, was exhausting. The pace picked up and went faster and faster until the unexpected conclusion.
Richie Arias is divorcing his wife of six years, Terri Peralta, and seeking full custody of their five-year-old daughter, Elena. Richie is a manipulative sociopath and brilliantly fools everyone with whom he comes in contact except Terri. She is devastated that she is not chosen to be Elena’s custodial parent and seeks to fight Richie for that right. When Elena withdraws completely and exhibits signs of being sexually abused, Terri and Richie reluctantly agree that she needs professional help. Terri’s widowed mother, Rosa, slowly reveals truths about the past throughout the book that send Terri reeling but do provide answers about her recurring nightmares.
Christopher Paget, fellow lawyer and later Terri’s lover, and his fifteen-year-old son, Carlo, become hopelessly involved in the case when Richie is found dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. The police determine that Richie was actually murdered and Chris is charged. Caroline Masters has the massive task of defending him when even she suspects he is guilty. Carlo is suspected of molesting Elena. Complicating matters, this case impinges on Chris’s political aspirations to become senator. Tabloid stories, crooked politicians and insensitive cops don’t help the tenuous situation.
Taking place in San Francisco, the story twines and intertwines storylines until it’s so fantastic it’s actually believable. The murder trial is discussed in agonizing detail and made me think of the Casey Anthony trial.