Dan Harper has a lot on his plate. He’s a computer programmer for Quick Pay and there is a glitch that he has to repair for one of his company’s clients within a week. His pregnant wife is in the hospital after fainting and hitting her head. He has a tennis tournament for the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA), which is the biggest recreational tennis league in the world. He plays doubles and Dan and his partner are one step away from reaching the A-1 level. This level would allow them to compete with former touring pros and college players. Easter Sunday is a few days away. And not to mention, there’s a serial killer on the loose and Dan is plagued with recollections from the murders that leads him to believe that he’s either psychic or the actual killer. He doesn’t believe in psychics, however, he doesn’t want to find out that he’s the killer either. Dan wants his life to go back to normal, yet that possibility seems slim since the visions won’t leave him alone and are taking over his life.
John L. Leonard’s novel, Secondhand Sight, is a gripping tale involving gruesome murders that have the police confounded. Detective Sergeant Bill Wassner is known in his department as the Bulldog who can close most cases within a week. He’s smart, resolute, and stubborn. Wassner is a man of action, who wants more than anything to solve an atrocious crime, which left one victim dead and another in the hospital. Given the details and brutality of the crime his gut tells him that this isn’t the first time the murderer has struck. He needs to convince others that the police are dealing with a serial killer. He also has to admit that he needs help on this case.
While Dan is trying to figure out if the visions he sees are due to his own actions, Wassner is working hard to solve the crimes. Unfortunately for Dan, several of the leads in the case point in his direction. Dan desperately wants to know the truth, but will he be able to live with it?
I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Leonard’s second novel a day before I boarded a plane for New York City to attend the US Open. Since I’m a huge fan of tennis, I got a kick out of the fact that the main character in the novel is a tennis player. My flight was seven hours long and this novel turned out to be a great way to pass the time.
As I mentioned above, the main character has a lot going on, which means there are many components in the novel that need explanation. Nevertheless, I felt that the author spent too much time explaining trivial aspects of the back story instead of building up the tension concerning whether or not Dan was a serial killer. The back story should remain just that, especially in a supernatural thriller. In the beginning I quickly turned the pages to find out more. When I reached the climax, I felt somewhat cheated since the momentum had fizzled due to the overabundance of minor details and not enough action. I understand that research is pertinent to stories such as these. The reader should believe that the main character is a computer programmer and a tennis player. Personally, I don’t need a lot of convincing to believe this and don’t desire much discussion on writing code or tennis shots. What I want is more story that impels me to continue reading until I reach the last page.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy Leonard’s novel. I did. I feel, though, that it could be tweaked a bit more to make it more suspenseful. I mentioned the above since I feel the author has great promise and I would love to see him improve and wow his readers. I give Secondhand Sight 3 out of 5 stars.