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As Brian and his team begin to piece together the clues, the answers lead him to places he would least expect. The further Brian digs, one question soon becomes apparent: who can he trust? The answer, it seems, may be life-threatening. The first in a new series from author Ryan Casey, Dying Eyes is a dark detective mystery with complex characters and a twisting, turning plot that is sure to please fans of the genre. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , pages. More Details Brian McDone Mysteries 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Dying Eyes , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Jan 09, Cheryl rated it really liked it.

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Loved it! Gripping read. My first read of this author and it won't be the last. May 05, Katie rated it liked it.

Cozy Mystery Bookclub- Quiche of Death

I feel that a big chunk of the end could have been left out. McDone's character is a little ridiculous, he's trying to hide his self-harming by pretending to be an alcoholic, which is supposedly okay to be if you're a police officer. I just don't understand why he has to commit so fully to being a smelly, gross drunk to cover up his cutting, can't he just wear long sleeves? I really enjoy murder mysteries, who done it's, etc. View 1 comment. May 27, Quillracer rated it it was ok Shelves: freebie. This had the potential to be a good story.

However, several things negated that potential. All were rude and abrasive to each other and much of what passed for conflict between them was merely bickering. O This had the potential to be a good story. One example: a character ejected instead of unbuckled her seatbelt. The two are not synonyms. Those failings reduced what could have been a 3 or 4 star book to a 2 star one. More read it out of amusement for how dreadful it was. Sorry Ryan Casey I do always try not to give bad reviews but I would be not doing my brain justice if I didn't allow it to vent just a bit about how much you just stole some hours of my life.

Really don't bother reading this. Obvious story, obvious back story. The one twist on the usual story really isn't covered up terribly well so the reveal is dreadful as is the twist on the back story. Jan 26, Joan added it Shelves: 2d-characters , crime-thriller , murder-mystery , abandoned , alpha-males , disappointing , anal-about-the-facts , unrated. My word this was depressing.

And what's with the Americanism? Preston Police Department? Surely it's Lancashire Constabulary?? I couldn't find one thing to like in the characters, or the depiction of the city. DNF when the language got too much. Not rating for personal reasons. Jun 01, Hanne T rated it it was ok Shelves: publisheds , suspense , read , kindle-reader. Shelves: crime , drama. Jun 07, Ted Tayler rated it really liked it. More of a case of who didn't do it, rather than a who dunnit. Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable tale, written in a style that lifts it above the norm.

Aug 07, Beth marked it as to-read. Dec 19, Tony Parsons rated it it was amazing. Interview room. Shenice Watson the bad news. Stocks grandmother. Only an honest one. A very well written who-dunnit murder mystery book. This could also make another great who-dunnit murder mystery movie, or better yet a mini TV series.

A very easy rating of 5 stars. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I actually expected more out of it. During the first few chapters, I wasn't really liking the way it read and it got quite annoying when the characters couldn't finish their sentences. I think the author has more potential and can write better.

The story line was It was interesting all the plot twists and, as some of the people who reviewed this book said it was more of a who-didn't-do-it book, I thought that was what made the book kinda interesting. When you're only on page out of I read the Nook version , you're automatically going to assume a plot twist is coming. There's no way the killer was found with another 89 pages to go I also have to admit, the ending was pretty good. I'm glad Brian got a good ending. Although, I was a little sad that Cassy died only because she seemed like a real badass and that's just awesome.

Overall, I would have to give it a 3. I think the main issue I had was the language used and the style of writing. I wouldn't turn away another Ryan Casey book, though May 05, Lirisha Tuladhar rated it really liked it. To say this book was totally awesome wouldnt be so appropriate.. The book waa somewhat quite a twist and turn.. The murder framing as a prostitute was quite good and the way the investigation smoothed on was grasping somehow..

Like the characters felt.. The way story also portrayed the hardship of the work and the balance between the family.. The burning frustrations and depressions.. Mar 26, R. I thought the suspense was killer in this novel. Loved it. After the young lady is found, it is assumed that she is a prostitute. She is not. They soon discover that there are several cover-ups going on, and most of them involve a personal empowerment group trying to uplift people in the small town and cause the town to improve itself. Surely nothing could be wrong with that? But there is a lot wrong with people in this mysterious group.

Who are the bad guys? Are there several? Or just one? And co I thought the suspense was killer in this novel.


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And could the top people in the police department be involved in cover-ups, too? The only nit I have is that the cover looks like covers I've seen elsewhere. The story line doesn't lag. The characters are believable. Recommended read. Nov 03, Will Decker rated it it was ok. Getting to the end turned into a real struggle.


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At what point do you cut bait? Character development was almost weird; I can't say it was non-existent, it just didn't bring the characters to life in a way that made them relate-able. Except for Cassy, there isn't a likable character in the story. Nor do the characters interact with each other like real people.

They're off weird. And what's with constantly repeating things? There was no scenario in which Joe killing Mickey made any sense to me. She was aware of just how incendiary such an accusation could be for a high school principal in a deeply religious, socially conservative town. Joe would later insist that it was a gag gift he and Mickey bought for a single friend of theirs. But investigators seized on the idea that Joe was gay, repeatedly probing the subject in interviews with his friends and colleagues. Suddenly, the very qualities that had endeared Joe to his community — his demonstrativeness, his warmth, his volubility — were cast in a different light.

The known facts suggested nothing so unusual. Nevertheless, investigators pursued the narrative that he had a secret gay life, and though no such rumors existed before the investigation, unfounded stories began to percolate of a supposed relationship with a male student and forays to New Orleans gay bars.

This was an insinuation that Linda, who was recently divorced from Richard, found laughable. She informed the police chief that she thought he could use his time more judiciously, given that in her estimation he had not one unsolved murder on his hands, but two. He was put on paid leave after his arrest, and for the first time since his career as an educator had begun, his hours were no longer set to the familiar rhythm of the school day.

He seemed less concerned about the prospect of being found guilty, Linda Liardon told me, than eager to move on. With the exception of his next-door neighbors, who always greeted him warmly, people often kept their distance. Most painful to Joe was the rupture of his relationship with the Blues. According to Joe, his pastor called that fall to relay the message that several members of First Baptist did not feel comfortable with him in attendance and suggested that he hold off on coming to church until his case had been decided by the courts.

His sense of abandonment was compounded when Richard Liardon made the trip to Elm Mott in early to ask on behalf of the school board if Joe would tender his resignation. In the course of just a few months, Joe had been stripped of everything: his career, his spiritual fellowship, his reputation and the person he loved most.

He frequently visited her, driving out to the small white chapel near the farming community where Mickey grew up. In the cemetery there, he would stop at the granite marker that was etched with her name. In March , when the State of Texas v. Joe D. His standing in the community was such that many of the potential jurors who appeared for jury duty reported knowing Joe in some way or having heard about the case. His attorneys, who were pleased that their well-regarded client was no stranger to a Bosque County jury pool, had not requested a change of venue.

There was good reason for the defense to feel confident at the start of the eight-day trial. He did not lay out a narrative or commit to a theory of the case, nor did he express the sort of fervent moral outrage that can be effective in glossing over a scarcity of facts. But what McMullen lacked in pugilistic style was made up for by his co-counsel, a bare-knuckled adversary named Garry Lewellen, who served as special prosecutor. Though it is not uncommon for a D. Joe, in fact, had never denied the flashlight was his; he typically kept it in the bedroom, he said, and last remembered seeing it there.

What was unclear was what relevance it had to the murder. Was Joe being truthful when he said he did not know how it had gotten in the trunk? Was the flashlight connected to the crime, and if so, how? The state expended surprisingly little energy trying to answer these questions during the first days of the trial. The most direct testimony came from Wilie, when he told the jury that investigators had observed bits of plastic at the crime scene, which they believed to be fragments of shell casings, and that he had seen two such fragments on the flashlight lens itself.

Other forensic evidence either pointed away from Joe or proved to be more bewildering than clarifying.

Living the Mystery

Two human hairs found in the cardboard box in the trunk did not match either of the Bryans, nor did 13 latent prints lifted from the master bedroom and bathroom, though the possibility existed that the prints predated the murder, because they had not been left behind in blood. But the gloves — the clear, disposable type that were dispensed at gas-station pumps — looked clean and unworn, and there was not enough blood to yield even a blood type. Arguably the single most consequential piece of evidence was the cigarette butt on the kitchen floor. Yet early on in the trial, Wilie asserted that he had brought it into the house himself.

Similarly, Wilie made no note of it in his page report. The prosecution went on to argue that Justice of the Peace Alvin James had tossed the cigarette butt to the ground outside the Bryan home; the blood group substance detected on the cigarette indicated that it had been handled by someone with type A blood — which James, along with about one-third of the population, had.

To win a conviction, however, prosecutors needed to do something much more complicated than deflect attention from details like the cigarette butt. Their account was constrained by two indisputable facts. He was also seen the next morning — when she was found dead — by witnesses at the conference in Austin.

James Smith, the principal to whom Joe had given control of his car when his colleagues came to drive him back to Clifton, testified that Joe showed no hesitancy in turning over the keys to the Mercury — not the expected behavior of someone presumed to have fled a messy crime scene hours earlier in the same vehicle. Its interior, Smith added, was scrupulously clean.

When Charlie Blue took the stand on the fourth day of the trial, the prosecution sought to cast him as a sympathetic figure — an older brother who had, by investigating the case himself and hiring a special prosecutor, gone the extra mile to find justice for his sister. The trim, self-assured year-old told the jury he initially harbored no suspicions of his brother-in-law.

He decided to call a private investigator, he explained, only after the local funeral home director suggested he do so. McDonald turned this detail back on Wilie. Blue has filed a suit claiming some of this money up in Cleburne, Tex. They made references to the Chippendales calendar with equal enthusiasm, darkly suggesting that Joe was not the upright citizen he claimed to be. In the absence of any solid evidence that placed him in Clifton at the time of the murder, they shifted their focus to discrediting Joe himself. McMullen called a Hyatt employee to the stand who had an odd story to tell.

According to the Hyatt employee, Joe explained that he had agreed to help the guard but that he had come to wonder about the incident after his wife was found dead. That was all anyone was ever able to dig up on Joe. The state never produced any witnesses who spoke of a troubled marriage or a violent past; they never located anyone who had caught a glimpse of him in Clifton in the late evening of Oct. Thorman was the bloodstain-pattern analyst who was called to the Bryan home when investigators were still working the scene.

As an interpreter of bloodstains, Thorman possessed a singular expertise, and the prosecution would use this to bring its hazy narrative into focus, lending a sense of scientific certainty to an otherwise equivocal set of facts. Forensic scientists and criminalists had long looked at bloodstains at crime scenes as potentially valuable clues. A few even attempted to trace the trajectories of the blood back to its source and, in doing so, to reverse-engineer the crimes themselves.

They believed that bloodstain-pattern analysis — the examination of the shape, dimension, location and distribution of bloodstains — could help them answer critical questions. What type of weapon caused the fatal wounds? Where was the victim standing when he was shot, stabbed or bludgeoned to death? Was she killed at the location where she was found, or was her body moved there? Trying to find the answers to these questions required an understanding of fluid dynamics and high-level math. Thorman was one of a growing number of officers who were taking weeklong training in the discipline and who sometimes testified as expert witnesses.

Though these police officers lacked the advanced scientific education of their predecessors, they, too, began to use bloodstain-pattern analysis to reconstruct crimes. Blood, they held, had a story to tell. The district attorney began by leading Thorman through a recitation of his credentials. The detective explained that he had served as a military police officer for 20 years before working his way up through the ranks of several small law-enforcement agencies and that he had been trained in bloodstain interpretation.

But Thorman did not spend much time describing his analysis of the bedroom, because it had turned up little new information. To win their case, the prosecution needed to tie the flashlight, which was found days after the murder, outside the Bryan home, to the crime scene. Photos of the flashlight that were shown to the jury revealed an object almost wholly devoid of blood, save for a scattering of tiny flecks on the lens and the occasional, minuscule speck on the side.

To the untrained eye, it did not look like much, but Thorman claimed that the particular pattern on the lens had deep significance for the case. By his telling, then, it had been both present at the crime and held by the killer. Until then, prosecutors had not been able to provide an answer for the most troublesome question it faced: If Joe had killed Mickey and then fled with the flashlight, why was no blood found on the interior of the Mercury?

Still, Thorman theorized that the killer had wiped himself off there with a rag, changed his clothes and even slipped on a different pair of shoes before exiting the house. McMullen took this idea one step further, asking a question that went far beyond the bounds of what a bloodstain-pattern analyst is qualified to evaluate. McMullen rested his case later that afternoon. He insisted he never left his hotel room after he spoke with Mickey on the evening of Oct.

He also told the jury of his peculiar encounter with the hotel guard, a story that Lewellen, the special prosecutor, used as a cudgel in a blistering cross-examination that cast Joe as a fabulist. But in the end, none of it mattered. Even McMullen seemed to acknowledge these weaknesses in his closing argument. Bryan, guilty of murder. The ruling did not exonerate Joe; it only found fault with his trial. A three-judge panel had concluded that the trial judge erred when he denied a particular defense request to reopen testimony late in the trial.

Her life insurance, it turned out, was valued at about half as much. He still stood charged with murder, and the Bosque County D. For the time being, though, Joe was a free man — or as free as a man can be while waiting to stand trial for a murder he had already been convicted of once. Joe was glad to catch sight of Smith, his expression softening.

Smith asked him if he would like to sit and visit, and they settled on a nearby bench. She was mindful not to overwhelm him with questions. She listened, letting him guide the conversation. As he spoke, it was apparent that the strain of the trial and his incarceration had been almost more than he could bear and that he felt the need, even as shoppers strolled by them, to unburden himself. He said nothing about his time in prison, and Smith did not venture to ask him about it.

When they rose to say goodbye, she embraced him and wished him well. By then, opinion in Clifton had turned against him, so much so that just talking to Joe at the mall could be seen as a radical act. The prevailing wisdom held that the jury rendered its decision after hearing all the facts. Yet like most people in Clifton, she held the criminal-justice system in high regard.

Mark Patrick Hederman

The widely held assumption was that law enforcement and the courts always got it right. Gone were the TV reporters, the crush of spectators and the sense that Joe, by virtue of his good reputation, could overcome a vigorous prosecution. McMullen, the district attorney, was again assisted by Lewellen, the special prosecutor, as they summoned largely the same witnesses who appeared at the first trial. It was in every way a repeat of the story the prosecution told before.

Thorman told the jury not only that the flashlight was in the bedroom at the time of the shooting but also that the killer, before fleeing the scene, had changed into clothes that were already in the Bryan home. As he spoke to the jury, he grounded his findings in the certainty of science.

Joe was again sentenced to 99 years. In letters back home to his mother, his older brother and the few friends who remained in touch with him, Joe was circumspect, revealing little about his existence behind bars or the emotional toll of incarceration. Even his last remaining Clifton friends gradually faded away. Linda Liardon wrote to Joe every now and then, but eventually she let the correspondence languish. But after a while, I struggled with what to say. Still, she was left with an uneasy feeling.

Everyone could put this behind them and not have to think that maybe someone was out there who had gotten away with murder. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The New York Times Magazine delivered to your inbox every week. Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter for ProPublica and a writer at large for the magazine. Please upgrade your browser. Site Navigation Site Mobile Navigation. When Mickey Bryan, a fourth-grade teacher, was murdered one night in , her small-town Texas neighbors were shocked. When her husband, Joe, the beloved high school principal, was charged with murder, they were stunned.

Could he possibly have done it, they wondered, or had there been a terrible mistake? Joe Bryan in January. I Most mornings, the sky was still black when Mickey Bryan made the short drive from her house on Avenue O, through the small central Texas town of Clifton, to the elementary school. Clifton Elementary School, where Mickey Bryan taught fourth grade.

Mickey and Joe Bryan in Judy Whitley, a year-old from Clifton, was found dead four months before Mickey Bryan was murdered. The Clifton Record from Oct. Clifton, Tex. The bedroom where Mickey Bryan was killed.

Hollywood's Notable Deaths of (Photos)

From KWTX. Charles McDonald, a defense attorney for Joe Bryan. Andy McMullen, the district attorney. The Clifton Record from April 17, Related Coverage.