Through the Eyes of a Child
by Laura Kenner
(Harl. Int. 465, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-22465-6
**
Matthew Childs is a reporter on leave of absence writing a book which, hopefully, will finally purge him of a childhood nightmare. Having witnessed his father's murder at the age of 6, he was ignored as a witness and has waited years to mature to the point where he could hunt the killer down and attain justice.

Matt is awakened one night by a voice from his past. His long estranged sister Carol calls to beg for help. When he arrives at her house, he discovers her husband Daniel "Bummpt" McFadden has been brutally slain, and Carol injured. Bummpt epitomizes the vileness of radio hosts who are given licenses to insult, so mourners are in short supply.

After a discussion with neighbors, Matt discovers a child hiding in the house. From his own experience Matt knows the trauma that Danny might have experienced. With seemingly little effort Matt bonds to the child and becomes "Uncle Matt," believing Danny to be Carol's child.

Since Carol is headed to the emergency room, the police permit Matt to take Danny home. But Danny is not Carol's child; he's Bummpt's child from a former marriage. Danny's mother Jill is located and arrives to pick him up.

The book starts to lose credibility for me at about this point. Jill elects to accept the hospitality of a perfect stranger since Danny doesn't want to leave his "Uncle Matt." The police question Danny, who at age 4 initially has little to offer.

Matt is convinced that Danny was indeed a witness, and lures his psychiatrist friend, Dr. Oscar McGrath, out of retirement to counsel Danny. Oscar had helped Matt deal with his problems in the like situation so is a perfect choice to work with Danny.

In Through The Eyes Of A Child, the inner dialogue of the killer is used to connect the prior murders and show the reader that the most recent killing was simply the latest in a series. So much for building suspense. The common thread that links the killings was one of the weakest I've ever seen, and the killer is too conveniently identified and caught.

The plot really didn't work for me. The characters, although well developed, moved in a mechanical way from one event to the next to advance the story line. Simply stated, there did not seem to be a logical flow to the characters' actions or the story's events. The interaction with Danny was cute, but the relationship between Matt and Jill left something to be desired. I missed the mounting sexual tension of a well-crafted romance.

While there are better romances and better suspense stories, you might enjoy this if you like reading about cute four-year-olds.

--Thea Davis


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