Eye of the Beholder

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Published by: Berkley
Release Date: August 5, 2008
Pages: 400
ISBN13: 978-0425222911



The serial-killer case made his career. The man he prosecuted was long ago executed. But if that man was guilty, who is now copy-catting his crimes, including identical details that were never made public?

Renowned attorney Paul Riley has built a lucrative career based on his famous prosecution of Terry Burgos, a serial killer who followed the lyrics of a violent song to gruesomely murder six girls. Now, fifteen years later, the police are confronted with a new series of murders and mutilations. Riley is the first to realize that the two cases are connected—and that the killer seems to be willing to do anything to keep him involved. As the murderer’s list of victims becomes less random and more personal, Riley finds himself at the center of a police task force assigned to catch the murderer-as both an investigator and a suspect.


“Nothing is as it seems in this stunning tale of illicit sex, murder and betrayal from Edgar-winner Ellis (Line of Vision). The brutal murders of six young women by Terry Burgos, a Mansbury College janitor, in June 1989 seems self-evident. After all, Burgos confessed, and then-assistant county attorney Paul Riley found enough evidence, including the song lyrics that inspired the murders, to get Burgos the death penalty. In June 2005, Riley’s in private practice working for the father of one of the six victims, Cassie Bentley, when someone begins duplicating those murders. Odd notes come to Riley in the mail from a disturbed man who may be a copycat killer. To complicate matters, Riley had, under pressure from Cassie’s prominent family, not charged Burgos with her murder in 1989. This fact comes back to haunt him when detectives find links between Cassie and the current murders. Juggling multiple viewpoints, Ellis keeps perfect control of his labyrinthine plot as it builds to a satisfying twist ending.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Of course, for every intelligent and resourceful woman who surfaces in crime fiction, there is sure to be some crazed serial killer out there determined to maim, mutilate and otherwise take her down. David Ellis comes up with a particularly nasty specimen in Eye of the Beholder, challenging his lawyer-sleuth, Paul Riley, to find the connection between two series of murders committed more than 15 years apart. Ellis, a former partner in a Chicago law firm, isn’t squeamish about laying out the gory details in the initial massacre of six young women in 1989 or the copycat atrocities to follow. But the carnage is only the grabber for what is actually a very tricky legal mystery, and Riley, who prosecuted “the most famous serial killer our city has ever seen” when he was a raw youth, doesn’t really hit his stride until he walks down those mean corridors that lead to the courtroom.”
—New York Times

“David Ellis turned heads with his Edgar First Novel win a few years ago, but if mystery readers hadn’t heard of the Chicago-based lawyer after his Memento-esque turn In the Company of Liars, they probably will with his newest effort, a fiendishly addictive take on the perils of interpreting a crime in one manner only to have it be representative of something completely different – and far more shocking. In 1989, Paul Riley was a young district attorney whose claim to fame was sending mass murderer Terry Burgos to his execution after the deaths of six young women. Sixteen years later, Riley is now a lawyer-for-hire for Harland Bentley, father of one of the aforementioned victims, and wholly unprepared for the news that others—and not just young women—are dying in similar manners, their gruesome exits aping lyrics from a suicidal classmate of Burgos. With twist after plausible twist, Ellis shows that no crime is ever really open and shut.”
—Baltimore Sun

“The author’s fifth novel (his previous titles include the popular In the Company of Liars, 2005,and the Edgar-winning Line of Vision, 2001) cements his reputation as a top-notch thriller writer. Fifteen years ago, prosecutor Paul Riley made his mark by putting away Terry Burgos, who was inspired by song lyrics to kill six young women in the most gruesome of fashions. Now, a new series of killings bears a frightening similarity to the Burgos murders, and as the victim list keeps growing, Riley realizes the killer seems to be sending a personal message to him. In order to solve the new crimes, Riley, realizing that the connection to the Burgos case is very real, must confront his own past and the terrifying possibility that, 15 years ago, he might have made a terrible mistake. The novel is tightly plotted and sparklingly written, a surefire winner and a fine read-alike for legal thrillers by Philip Margolin and Perri O’Shaughnessy.”

“From a shark prosecutor’s easy win, incalculable losses derive. A slam dunk if ever there was one—that’s how the case looks to newly appointed First Assistant County Attorney Paul Riley. The case: six young women brutally murdered on premises belonging to a certain Terry Burgos. Forensic evidence: overwhelming. Alibi: nonexistent. When, in addition, Burgos more or less confesses, the defense is down to the frail hope of an insanity plea. Without working up much of a sweat, Riley disposes of that, and in the process, earns the gratitude of tycoon Harland Bentley, whose personal wealth is estimated at a billion and a half, and whose beloved daughter was one of the six victims. Convicted, Burgos is sentenced to die in the gas chamber and does, and Riley is a witness. There is, to be sure, a moment of unforeseen drama. Before dying, Burgos mouths to Riley: “I’m not the only one.” Unsettling, yes, but not for long. The question of legality aside, Burgos was, after all, manifestly crazy. Flash forward 16 years. Riley is now in private practice, head of a substantial firm bulwarked by Harland Bentley’s multinational legal business. He is, in short, a player. Suddenly, a new murderous cycle has the city’s media buzzing. And there are the notes that begin arriving at Riley’s office—creepy, cryptic. Despite himself, Riley investigates—and learns how chimerical truth can be. And how disastrous.

Another top-flight legal thriller from Edgar-winner Ellis (In the Company of Liars, 2004, etc.), brimming with quality prose and layered characterizations.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“You’ll sleep with the light on after reading this bloody tale about a lawyer who may have convicted the wrong guy.”
—People Magazine