With Eyes Closed by Jan-Erik Ullström

The plot is fairly simple; With Eyes Closed is a traditional “killer-is-out-to-get-the-main-character-story”. What mainly set this novel apart are three things:

First, you can say that the main character is almost suffering from a split personality. Elisabeth (or Bettey who she sometimes “becomes”) is also very difficult to put a label on. The character’s actions often feel completely irrational, which work in this case since her psyche is so broken.

The second thing that sets this novel apart is the language. Ullström seems to love words, mainly adjectives and adverbs, because the novel is filled with them. I do not know if I agree with Stephen King who once said “The road to hell is paved with adjectives” but it brings down the pace enormously and as a reader you get pretty tired after a while.

The third thing is the editing, or rather the lack thereof. The novel is 470 pages and almost a third of it does not add anything to the story. There are also way too many repetitions and logistic/logic-issues. I had definitely recommended that Ullström get a better editor! Because With Eyes Closed has its moments, but unfortunately, they drown in all the noise.


Original title in Swedish: Med slutna ögon


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