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

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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.
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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 (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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 Matthews on June 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
A body of a man who's death revealed an incredible amount of pain before he died is found, and "He Died with His Eyes Open" is the story of a London detective from`unsolved deaths' division who investigates the murder. In order to do so, he fully immerses himself into his life, tracing his background closely through the dark alleys, clubs, and the leacherous underground of London. The characters are rich and pop from the page through the incredible dialect. The novel reads smooth, sharp, and quick, with just enough richness to keep you satsified.

While investigating, the detective undercovers a series of notes and tapes that the victim left behind, and becomes gets obsessed with learning about him. He decides he needs to solve this crime because the victim represents a sense of innocence, idealism, and higher degree of human nature than anyone around him, and thus if this man's death can go unpunished, then the world is a chaotic and inhumane place to exist.

As to who the killer is, it is cleverly hidden, and at one point the detective decides that pretty much everyone in this victims life has killed him to one degree or another. All of them. This is the novel's world, where idealism and kindness gets slowly killed by all those around them, and the only recluse is the journaling and writing where the victim poured his whole soul into.

The reader reads this story within the story along with the detective, and thus we are becoming him, just as enthralled about why this person died and at who's hands. The author does an incredible job of switching from the dark, yet more pragmatic tone of the world of the detective to the romantic, saddened despair and longing of the victim.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dave Wilde on August 2, 2015
Format: Paperback
Derek Raymond (aka Robert Cook) has a biography almost as fascinating as his novels. He smuggled oil paintings, got thrown in Spanish prison for badmouthing Franco, drove fast cars, lived with the beat poets in the fifties, was interrogated by Dutch police, and then wrote British noir.

Raymond published five novels in his nameless detective Factory series and these excellent novels are unique in their format and tone. The narrator is a British detective who works unsolved cases, cases no one in the Department of Unexplained Deaths could give a lesser damn about. He spends an enormous amount of time in these cases, delving into the victim's character and lives, trying to understand what happened.

A man is found on the side of the road, beaten with a hammer, stabbed with a knife, and made to suffer a long slow death. Who was he and who hated him so much? Our detective listens to a series of cassette tapes left by the victim in the form of a diary and tries to understand who this man was and who had it in for him. As it says in this diary, "Anyone who conceives of writing as an agreeable stroll toward middle-class lifestyle will never write anything but crap."

On the way, he brings Britain of the early eighties alive with punks, mods and rockers, junkies, people living as squatters and on the dole.

There may not be the kind of action here present in most detective novels, but it is a smooth, talented read that is worth reading far more than once. This detective is rude, sarcastic, overbearing and altogether one of the most unique characters ever.
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