The Cold Eye of Heaven opens with 75-year old retired solicitor Farley Grainger lying on his bathroom floor having suffered a stroke. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Farley sees his life ‘flash before him’ in a series of scenes spread across the decades back to his childhood. The structure means that Farley grows younger as the novel proceeds while each decade gives the reader a better understanding of what made him the man he became. And the more we understand of his life’s experiences, the more our sympathy grows.
Essentially, Farley is an ordinary man leading an unremarkable life — a man who has betrayed and been betrayed in the important relationships in his life — but who comes across as fundamentally decent if curmudgeonly with age. Among the best drawn scenes in the book are those involving Farley’s work colleagues, Frank, Noreen and Tony and the description of his retirement party is particularly well done.
It would not be a stretch to describe The Cold Eye of Heaven as an ‘everyman’ story that focuses on aging, loneliness and disappointment. Farley is a believable and sympathetic character and Hickey is an accomplished writer who knows how to keep you turning the pages.
The Cold Eye of Heaven is published by Atlantic Books. I purchased the Kindle edition from Amazon.com.