– Joanna Raines
Joanna Raines used to think there was nothing worse than darkness. What else would a young, aspiring professional photographer think when they begin losing their vision to Fuchs corneal dystrophy? Distraught that the chance to pursue her dream is slipping away, Joanna undergoes a corneal transplant in one eye in hopes that will restore her vision. If all goes well, she’ll have the other eye done too.
While waiting on a train platform on her way to a follow up visit with her physician, Joanna witnesses a horrific accident when a man falls in front of the train and has one of his arms torn off. While the man is down, apparently dead, Joanna sees a dark shadow envelop him, seeming to enter his body through the stump of the ravaged arm. As the shadow dissipates the man jerks back to consciousness, not only alive but far more calm and upbeat than anyone has a right to be having just lost an arm to a train.
Joanna tries to convince herself what she saw was merely a trick of lighting, or perhaps something amiss from the operation. When her doctor removes a tiny stitch that had been irritating her eye and affecting her vision Joanna is satisfied that was the problem. That is until upon exiting his office, located within a hospital, she sees the man from the train platform being wheeled past her in the hallway and, despite the bright lights of the hospital, he is still shrouded in the menacing black shadow.
When the shadowy vision persists not only with the man from the train but begins appearing around other people, people who all seem intent on doing her harm, Joanna slowly comes to the disturbing realization she is seeing something very real, but which others cannot. She is seeing pure evil.
The majority of the events in Dead Man’s Eye unfold in the hospital, giving things an oddly claustrophobic feeling despite the building’s labyrinth structure, and author Shaun Jeffrey keeps things moving along with tight prose at a brisk pace. And while not overly wordy, he does do a particularly nice job describing Joanna’s sense of wonderment at her increasing awareness of sound even in the face of her terror at the thought of losing her vision:
Someone walked past, pulling something that rattled across the stone floor. She heard a couple of children arguing and an irate mother berating them. She also heard traffic outside, and the beat of wings as a bird, probably a pigeon, flew through the station. Then she detected the sound of heavy machinery droning in the distance like a mechanical bee. The whistle of the wind blowing along the platform. And, above it all, the man at her side beating out his impatient rhythm like a war beat. She never realized before how much extraneous noise the ears picked up that the consciousness ignored.