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He Died with His Eyes Open Paperback – March 12, 1987
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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."
"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."
“A crackerjack of a crime novel, unafraid to face the reality of man’s and woman’s evil.”
"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."
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
There are but two problems with "Eyes": first, it's essentially a standard police procedural and isn't terribly original in any regard and second, the crackpot psychoanalysis of the sadistic, gratuitously violent and perverted murderer(s) is right out of Havelock Ellis as re-written by David Goodis. James Ellroy did a much better job in his "L.A. Quartet" (and a less good job along the same lines in some of his earlier books like "Blood on the Moon"). Raymond's work is best compared to novels by Gene Kerrigan. They both deal with pretty much the same element in pretty much the same setting. Kerrigan's prose is a bit more fluid and his work perhaps a little more polished. Importantly, it lacks the silly pop psychology of "Eyes".
In summary, "Eyes" is entertaining and, if the cover blurbs are to be believed, of seminal importance in the history of noir fiction in the UK. Given that Raymond supposedly lived a lifestyle that more-or-less approximates that of his subjects, an element of verisimilitude can be assumed. It's not a brilliant book, but it's an entertaining one.
The blend of story, plot, action, style, character, and ideas [in the form of psychopathologies] is almost perfectly achieved in this first book in the Factory series.
The book is not overly violent, but like much crime fiction there is some and that some is quite graphic.
Set in Thatcherite Britain, the novel follows an unnamed detective working for the Dept. of Unexplained Deaths (they follow up on deaths of the marginalized and down and out) as he attempts to close a case involving one of the Londoners living on the fringes of society.
The detective is driven but articulate and thoughtful, and they offer the reader a depth of identity not normally achieved in the police procedural.
Recommended for fans of Noir; mystery; procedural, and Crime…especially those who enjoy a slightly more thoughtful take on their crime.
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
This book is one of the best noirs I've read in a long while. There's a compelling murder mystery and plenty of snappy dialogue. In fact, it transcends the genre to become true literature with its lyrical ruminations on death, truth and the reasons we are here. I could not put it down and look forward to reading the rest of Raymond's Factory novels.