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He Died with His Eyes Open (Factory 1) Paperback – October 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Factory 1
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Melville International Crime (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781935554578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935554578
  • ASIN: 1935554573
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Derek Raymond's Factory Series

"Unrelenting existentialist noir—as if the most brutal of crime fictions had been recast by Sartre, Camus, or Ionesco while retaining something of the intimate wise-guy tone of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett."
—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books


"It’s one of the darkest and most surrealistically hard-boiled things I’ve ever read. The detective is at least as scary as the murderers he’s chasing."
—William Gibson, bestselling author of Neuromancer

"There remains no finer writing—crime or otherwise —about the state of Britain."
—David Peace, author of "The Red Riding Quartet."


"No one claiming interest in literature truly written from the edge of human experience, no one wondering at the limits of the crime novel and of literature itself, can overlook these extraordinary books."
—James Sallis, author of Drive

"The Factory novels are certainly the most viscerally imagined of their kind that I've ever read, or reread multiple times. Derek Raymond wrote in a supposedly escapist genre in a manner that precluded any hope of escape."
—Scott Phillips, bestselling author of The Ice Harvest

"I Was Dora Suarez blew me away—beyond hard boiled."
—Patton Oswalt

"More Chandleresque than Chandler... [Raymond] could write beautifully...and, more importantly, what he is writing about in this novel are nothing less than the important subjects any writer can deal with: mortality and death."
—Will Self

“A crackerjack of a crime novel, unafraid to face the reality of man’s and woman’s evil.”
Evening Standard

"The beautiful, ruthless simplicity of the Factory novels is that Raymond rewrites the basic ethos of the classic detective novel."
—Charles Taylor, The Nation

"Hellishly bleak and moving."
—New Statesman

About the Author

Derek Raymond was the pseudonym of British writer Robert Cook, who was born in London in 1931. The son of a textile magnate, he dropped out of Eton and rejected a life of privilege for a life of adventure. He traveled the world, living in Paris at the Beat Hotel and on New York’s seedy Lower East Side, smuggled artworks into Amsterdam, and spent time in a Spanish prison for publicly making fun of Franco. Finally, he landed back in London, working in the lower echelons of the Kray Brothers’ crime syndicate laundering money, organizing illegal gambling, and setting up insurance scams. He eventually took to writing—first as a pornographer, but then as an increasingly serious novelist, writing about the desperate characters and experiences he’d known in London’s underground. His work culminated in the Factory novels, landmarks that have led many to consider  him the founding father of British noir. He died in London in 1993.

Customer Reviews

There's a compelling murder mystery and plenty of snappy dialogue.
Billy
If you enjoy the stylings of James Ellroy, Iain Banks, or even Raymond Chandler, anything by Derek Raymond is a sure bet.
"violence_jack"
The story, or more so, the telling of the story, is compelling, so that one wants to read it in one sitting.
David Pagan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "violence_jack" on April 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy the stylings of James Ellroy, Iain Banks, or even Raymond Chandler, anything by Derek Raymond is a sure bet. "He Died With His Eyes Open" is a stunning read. It follows the narrator, a nameless English detective, during his pursuit/descent while trying to find those guilty of a violent murder. Through writings and tape-recorded thoughts recovered from the victim, the detective becomes increasingly attached to the persona of the deceased. The prose is stark, elegant, incredibly philsophical, and yields a wealth of great quotes.
Another reviewer on Amazon.com mentioned that the methods of detection were not convincing, and the ending was "over-the-top".
Well...it's certainly not in the vein of an Agatha Christie mystery; It is a rare, brilliant look at the primal underpinnings of "civilized" society. It is classic noir, in the sense that it is a stylistic meditation on the nature of man/good vs. evil, as seen through the eyes of someone who makes a life out of being on the front lines of misery.
"He Died With His Eyes Open" compares more than favorably to Ellroy's "The Black Dahlia", with proper British style.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on August 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a series that lacks a lot of things. The main character lacks a name. He also lacks human emotion and emotional brakes. His life is a random series of inertia. He would rather do nothing, but once he starts, whatever he's doing develops a life of it's own until it comes to a conclusion (not always satisfactorily).

He works as a 'sergeant' in the "Factory" (Metropolitan Police) in the Department of Unexplained Deaths'. Unlike the SCD (Serious Crimes Division) the DUD (get it!) gets the murders of prostitutes, drug addicts and the other detritus of society. The crimes of course are serious but only to those they are perpetrated on.

Our Sergeant is called on to a murder scene of a man found in the bushes just off a main highway (the A2). The man has been beaten brutally (all of his major bones have been broken and then he was hit on the head with a hammer). He has no identification. But he is a nobody. The Sergeant has a nemesis/colleague in SCD who is trying to get him to move up. The Sergeant says, "I like my independence." But what he really likes is to be able to work by himself, drink when he wants and work a case the way he wants.

The Sergeant works his way through the underbelly of late 1950s London. The city is still showing it's ruff edges left over from the War and rationing has just ended. But there is still a large unemployed under- class that lives on the margin of society. This is the Sergeant's milieu and he doesn't want to leave it. It's as much a part of him as he is a part of it.

The story and the solution are no great shakes, but they aren't the reason to read the story. The descriptions of the other side of London at this time in history and the way people lived and spoke is the real reason to read the novel.

Zeb Kantrowitz
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Cheney on September 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
I quite like Derek Raymond's (Robin Cook's) "nameless detective" novels, and as well as putting in my two-cents'-worth here, I'm writing this to rectify a previous misleading review, so that new readers might not be disappointed.

The novel's main strengths are its narrator/protagonist's unpretentious humanity and the really wicked dialogue. British readers, familiar with television's "The Sweeney", may not find the dialogue so novel, but when I first read HE DIED WITH HIS EYES OPEN in the mid-'eighties, it was a revelation.

The point I want to rectify concerns some statements made by a previous reviewer: "The Sergeant works his way through the underbelly of late 1950s London. The city is still showing it's [sic] ruff [sic] edges left over from the War and rationing has just ended." I don't know how the reviewer could reconcile skinheads, rock cassette tapes, a black woman with orange-dyed hair and eyebrows, and worn-out '74 Maxis (all of which are part of the landscape of the novel) with post-World War II London. The narrator even mentions an armored-car robbery that took place in 1980. The proper milieu of Cook's Department of Unexplained Deaths novels is the early 'eighties, not the late 'fifties.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By eclecticreviewer on March 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
"All the evil in the world is powerless against intelligence and courage."

A dead body of a man is found in London and the detective protagonist needs to find who did it. What he finds is an interesting oral history of the victim's life captured by the victim on tapes. The tapes reveal the loneliness and destitution that the victim endures and the people that play a part of his life and death.

This book was originally published in the 1980's and the writing is fantastic. I really enjoyed this noir crime story. It is stark, gritty and real and you keep wanting to read more. The great mastery of this story is that you never learn the name of the detective who is investigating the story and you don't even realize it because it is so well written. I can't wait to read the next in the series.

Thank you to Mr. Raymond, Melville House Publishing and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frosted on March 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book had good to great characters, an interesting storyline, and an unusual plot device, consisting of unfolding the victim's letters and tapes slowly during the investigation, propelling the plot along. But in the end, well, you'll have read the letters and tapes carefully, only to find that they don't make much difference. To cap it off, the final chapters go off in a direction that struck me as crazy, and I like to think I love a wild ride. I get it: The investigator's sole ambition is to get justice for the most unappealing victims. His case can't be solved in any regular way. Sooo ... he sets up a confrontation where he's unarmed and likely to be killed himself but the criminals will be caught ... but for his murder, not the original one. Too much for me, but I would read this author again.
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