Eyes Wide Openby Andrew Gross
Jay Erlich's nephew has been found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay—a tragic suicide, it appears, until secrets from the past rear up again.
Years ago, Jay's older brother, Charlie, a wayward child of the sixties, fell under the sway of a charismatic but deeply disturbed cult leader in California—a mesmerizing human monster who set a nightmare… See more details below
Jay Erlich's nephew has been found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay—a tragic suicide, it appears, until secrets from the past rear up again.
Years ago, Jay's older brother, Charlie, a wayward child of the sixties, fell under the sway of a charismatic but deeply disturbed cult leader in California—a mesmerizing human monster who set a nightmare of violence into motion. Charlie moved on and raised a family, but the demons that nearly destroyed him never completely disappeared.
Heading west to help his grieving brother, Jay finds himself being pulled back into Charlie's dark history. In a story of two brothers—one successful, the other outcast and troubled—Jay must put his family and life on the line to uncover the truth behind his brother's son's death, a dark and dangerous quest that threatens to bring up the secrets of the past once again . . . and plunge him over the edge into the depths of evil.
Nothing is evil if it's done out of love. Such is the mantra of a convicted murderer's cult followers. A troubled teenager falls from a cliff, an apparent suicide. But why would the boy remove one sneaker before jumping? And where is that sneaker? Evan Erlich's distraught father Charlie is convinced that Evan did not kill himself even though the family had serious internal conflicts. Charlie himself had once led a drug-addled life, and he and his wife Gabby depend on others for their support. Narrator Jay Erlich is Evan's brother and a successful physician with a loving wife and family and far better circumstances in life. He is drawn deeply into a tangle of fear in which Evan's death is only the beginning. Jay initially seeks to comfort his brother and sister-in-law over their son's death, but like any good hero he asks too many questions and never knows when to quit. He crosses paths with Susan Pollack, who has just been released from prison after more than 30 years. Her lover, Russell Houvnanian, is an unrepentant killer with a magnetic personality and a long memory. Houvnanian lingers forever in a super-max prison at California's Pelican Bay and rarely even sees daylight. What can these people possibly have to do with poor Evan or with the other victims who turn up? And what about the eyes carved into the bodies? Trouble piles on trouble, and absolutely no one is safe, even when it seems that no more disasters can happen.
An emotional, frightening study of evil with believable characters and a relentless pace. Readers who wear pacemakers will want to check their batteries before they open the book.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.10(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Read an Excerpt
Eyes Wide OpenA Novel
By Andrew Gross
William MorrowCopyright © 2011 Andrew Gross
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA myriad of lights flickered brightly in the distance. The whoosh
of the surf cascading against the rocks was only a far-off whisper
hundreds of feet below.
From up here, the lights all seemed just like candles to him.
Millions of candles! Like the whole world had all come out and
assembled before him, an endless procession at his feet.
It made him smile. He had never seen anything more beautiful
fin his life. He had always wondered what it would be like from
up herethe gigantic mound of rock, miles and miles of coastline
Now he knew.
You could probably see all the way to L.A., the boy imagined. He
was no longer a boy really, he was twenty-onethough sometimes
he still felt like one.
What are the voices saying to you now?
He stepped out closer to the ledge. "They're saying this is where
I was meant to be."
He had made the climb up hours ago, before it got dark, to be
alone with his thoughts. To calm the noise that was always in his
head. To see . . . And now it was just so beautiful. And all the voices
had quieted except one.
His angel, he called her. The one voice he could trust.
Have you ever seen anything more beautiful? the angel asked
"No, I haven't." He looked down at the lights of the small coastal
Waves crashed against the jagged rocks below. His heart picked
up excitedly. "I can see the whole world."
Yes, it's all there for you.
He hadn't taken his meds today. Usually that made him a little
foggy, his thoughts jumbled. But today, maybe for the first time ever,
his mind was clear. Completely clear. "I feel just like Jesus."
Maybe you are, his angel answered.
"Then maybe I should just return from where I came. Maybe
God wants me back. Maybe that's what I'm feeling."
You're not meant for this world, the voice replied. You're
smarter. You were destined for greater things. You've always known
Yes. The voice was soothing and close to his ear. His heart began
to pound like the surf. There's only one way to find out . . .
He took another step, closer to the edge, the darkness surrounding
him. The breeze brushed against his face. "That feels good. I feel
good. I feel good about this."
Just spread your arms, his angel instructed him.
"Like wings?" He opened his arms wide. "You mean like this?"
Yes, just like that. Now think of heading home. The pain you
will no longer be feeling. You see those lights? They're all so
beautiful, aren't they?
Beneath him, a piece of the ledge broke loose. It took several
seconds until he heard the sound of it breaking apart on the craggy
rocks below. He stepped back, fear springing up in him. "I'm scared."
Don't be. This is the moment it's all been leading to. All these
years. You know this, don't you?
"Yes." He nodded. "I know . . ."
Then open your arms. Just let the wind caress your face. Let the
darkness take you. It's easy . . .
"I feel it!" the boy said. He spread his arms. "I do."
Feel how loving its touch is. How free of pain. You've been in so
much pain lately.
"I have been. Yes, I have."
It would be good to be rid of the pain, just for once. To stop
the voices. To stop feeling he was letting everyone down. He knew
how much of a burden he was. To his parents. To everyone who had
expectations of him. The absence of pain is heaven, isn't it? Heaven.
That would be nice. To finally be free of it.
Then just reach out, the angel said. Let it take you. Like the
wind. Just think of heading home. That's all it is. You can do that,
"I think so," he said, nodding. "I think so."
Sucking in a breath, he stepped farther out on the edge, his pulse
picking up speed. Only the cushion of darkness beneath him. The
welcoming sound of the surf far below. How incredibly peaceful it
all was. And those candles, so beautiful . . .
So this was it . . .
"I'm so sorry!" he shouted to the panoply of lights. To his mother
and father. He knew how much this would hurt and disappoint them.
"Like an angel . . ." he said, shutting his eyes. A final cacophony
built in his brain. He stretched out his arms wide, palms in the air.
"Like this . . . ?"
Yes, just like that, the angel said.
Excerpted from Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Gross. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Andrew Gross is the author of the New York Times and international bestsellers Everything to Lose, No Way Back, 15 Seconds, Eyes Wide Open, Reckless, Don't Look Back, The Dark Tide, and The Blue Zone. He is also coauthor of five number one bestsellers with James Patterson, including Judge & Jury and Lifeguard. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
This book left me a state of unsettleness. First a doctor who seems to have everything going for himself and his family takes off and leaves his family to help out his loser of a half brother. Second, this book parallels to the Manson family and his brood of drugged up hippies. It scared me then and it scares me now. I don't like to be riminded of those horrendous murders. Third the author did the unthinkable, he did not give the story a proper ending. Am I suppose to figgure it out. After reading through 300 some pages only to come to that conclusion. It absolutely drives me crazy.
This novel is an entertaining and fast read. It is generously peppered with references familiar to readers who know California's central coast. The plot is relatively direct. The cast of characters, easily imagined. It plays out in the mind like television. This comes at the expense (or annoyance) of excessively developing character, location and subplot, again like television. The story gave the two of us here who read it enjoyment and fodder for discussion and comment. There were mercifully few places where I could not suspend my disbelief for the sake of the story. Also, insights into human nature come from outside the story, not within! All in all, it was an entertaining mystery lover's confection.
I've read his other books and enjoyed them. This one...not so much. It's a thinly disguised retelling of the Manson (Squeeky, Tex and the rest) cult murders. Even the names Gross uses for his characters are similar.
In Morro Bay, California, twenty-one year old Evan Erlich leaps off a rock to his death in what was an apparent suicide. Evan's father Charlie calls his younger brother Jay with the news. Though the siblings are estranged, Jay leaves his medical practice to go across the country to Grover Beach to be there for his sibling and his sister-in-law Gabriella. Charlie tells Jay he had troubled Evan committed out of fear his son would kill himself, but does not believe the lad took his life. However the state released Evan just before he killed himself. Being a doctor, Jay believes the institution has negligence liability based on their releasing a potential suicidal person. Jay investigates his nephew's death and soon uncovers murky links to other questionable deaths and Charlie's 1970s relationship with cultist murderer Russell Houvnanian while the local cops starting with dedicated Detective Sherwood tell him to go home. With an obvious link to the Manson murders, this exciting thriller starts off as a slow paced family drama as parents and an uncle deal with the suicide of the next generation. However, once Jay begins his resolute obstinate inquiry, the plot accelerates as he begins to find a horrific murderers' row which targets the Erlich trio. Harriet Klausner
I really enjoyed this book, as i have enjoyed all of his books! The ending wasnt what i expected, but that is why he is such an excellent writer. You won't be sorry if u purchase this.
First book by this author that I have read-and it was a good one!
Started out as a good thriller. As the story progressed,became too much like the Manson story. I also have to question whether Dr. Jay was released from the hospital with his mouth still wired shut. Normally it takes longer than a few days for a broken jaw to heal. Also, is there a sequel since we were left hanging at the end. For the most part, I enjoyed reading the book.
I have enjoyed Andrew Gross's other books, but I thought this book was not worth reading. I found the storyline to be very far fetched and unnecessarily violent.
I was fortunate to receive a free ARC copy of this book. This is one of those books that will catch your attention and not let go until the last line. One of those books that will still be in your hands long past bedtime. It is a complex storyline, with all the expected twists (and then some) and with a sinister backdrop that will chill you as you turn the pages. The characters are very interesting. The way the author handles the bipolar and schitzophrenic Evan, Charlie and Gabby shows how comfortable he is with his creations. Their dialogue feels natural and even their delusions have a steady core of truth. There is no melodrama here. Jay, the main character, provides a lucid wall for them to bounce against as he tries to discover just what happened to Evan, his nephew. The villain, a Manson-like cult leader, has that charm and coldness that rings real enough to frighten the reader. I will not be forgetting him any time soon. When it comes to the plot, I could tell how carefully planned it had been. Most of the pieces fit together perfectly, propelling the reader down through secrets that werekept hidden for too long. There are a couple of plot points that weren't completely resolved, and which left me wondering. They were not extremely important and could have easily been cut out, which make me question why they weren't. But don't let that put you off, this is a book to read. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers, mysteries, or just a well-crafted novel. Just don't be surprised if you can't look at a dollar bill quite the same ever again.
Andrew Gross is one of the best authors. His books keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.
This is a fast-paced, exciting and chilling story of retribution by a Manson-like cult. A doctor risks his marriage, career, and ultimately his life while searching for the truth behind his nephew's suicide. I had a hard time putting it down, but as an animal lover, I have to warn future readers that there are several scenes of graphic violence towards pets that I felt were unnecessary.
It is about a suicide that quickly evolves into a murder mystery, with a Charlie Manson look alike in the background. A drugged out family,blessed with a psychotic son, who hates his parents to the point of abusing them verbally and physically, but they still love each other very deeply. The word dysfunctional is to meek to describe their relationship with each other, and the hero, who is a half brother. All along the Manson like character controls two disciples who commit a chain of murders, from a maximum security prison. Hard to fathom? You bet ya. The story ends with a puzzle that I don't believe even Mr. Gross completely understood, just for the sake of leaving everyone who read the book to the end in limbo.
Great book !
It seemed a rip off on the charles manson murders
Why would a doctor get so involved in his messed up brother's life? This same brother knew why but kept silent about his son's murder. The book is a thriller. I did not like it though. As far as the ending, it seems obvious the revenge is not over.
Fast paced, kept me interested. Hoping for a sequel