In the Blink of an Eye – Jo Callaghan

Published By: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 416
Released On: 19/01/2023

In the UK, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds.
Just gone. Vanished. In the blink of an eye. 

DCS Kat Frank knows all about loss. A widowed single mother, Kat is a cop who trusts her instincts. Picked to lead a pilot programme that has her paired with AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock, Kat’s instincts come up against Lock’s logic. But when the two missing person’s cold cases they are reviewing suddenly become active, Lock is the only one who can help Kat when the case gets personal. 

AI versus human experience. 
Logic versus instinct.
With lives on the line can the pair work together before someone else becomes another statistic? 


I often find that the books that are raved about, I don’t think are that good, and I start to wonder what all the fuss was about. But this is an exception. People weren’t exaggerating when they said how good this book is.

Let me tell you, if you want to do anything with your day, then don’t start reading this, because you’ll be unable to put it down until you’ve finished it.

It poses some interesting, but uncomfortable, questions about authority. Who would people rather have in charge? Would they prefer a man who is black, or a woman who is white? Would they rather have a man who is holographic because it’s a man, or would they rather have a human even though they’re a woman?

The characters are brilliant. I could feel the initial anger coming off of Kat towards Lock, and I could feel the smugness (I know he’s AI and doesn’t have emotions) coming from Lock. I was annoyed with him on Kat’s behalf at first. But he’s an extraordinary character to have created. You have other characters of course, such as Kat’s fellow officers Browne and Hassan, then you have her boss McLeish, and Lock’s creator Professor Okonedo. They are all fabulously written, I could fill an entire review about each character, they work so wonderfully together.

It could have so easily been another police crime novel, and as good as they can be, they can also get a little repetitive. But this was so much more. It has the things we expect to get from a crime novel, but it has a twist, and it’s this twist that makes this story stand out amongst the rest.

Whilst reading it, I was wondering whether Jo had worked for the police at all or had any experience of AI and crime, as everything was so precise and, I assume, accurate. It was only after I’d finished reading that I read on the dust jacket that she worked as a senior strategist, carrying out research into the future impact of AI and genomics on the workforce. Which seems so obvious now. I really liked the bits of herself she added to the story: her experience with AI, experience with crimes, and experience with loss – she lost her husband to cancer in 2019 aged just 49. They give it a little extra touch.

I enjoyed the discussion about whether AI can be harmful. Could AI confidently identify cancer, for example. I’ve said before, I lost my dad in 2017 to cancer, aged just 57. By the time he was diagnosed (just 9 months prior to his passing), it was too late. But it was a cancer that only started showing symptoms once it had already spread. So it got me thinking. Would AI have been able to pick up on it earlier? Possibly, but without the symptoms, he wouldn’t have gone to the doctors to get checked anyway, GP or AI. But what if AI had been an option in diagnosis? Would I have trusted it to make that decision? I honestly couldn’t say. It might be able to help in some cases, but it’s information will be limited and there’s not always room for anomalies. I think when it comes to giving bad news and comforting people, the human touch is always better.

I think AI and humanity could work well together in the future, but we do run the risk of it taking over all together, and we need that human instinct. I liked the idea of whether humanity was better than AI, or vice versa. The human needs to become more pragmatic and not let emotion rule, but AI needs to become more compassionate and more…well, human.

It’s a nice balance of plot and character development. I’ve said before that I prefer reading about the characters than the plot in any book, but I think with this one, the plot is what makes the character development and they’re both of equal importance.

The story is so detailed, absolutely fantastic, complex and well thought out, fast paced, exhilarating, heart pounding, stressful and thrilling.

Whilst at its basics, this book is a crime novel, a thriller, looking into the success rates of AI in the police. And whilst I agree with that, for me, I would say it’s more about the human element. The grief, the love, the hatred, the worry, the anger, the sadness, and the instincts. For all the technological advances, it has this human heart that made it incredibly soulful and moving.

This is such a powerful debut novel. I can see she’s writing a sequel and I’m so glad. This has the potential to be a far reaching, exciting, glorious series, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where she takes it. It completely tests your expectations of what a thriller should be.

I seriously do not have anything negative to say about it. Few books get a 100% positive review from me, there’s usually something, however small. But I couldn’t find a single flaw in this book. It’s just genius storytelling and the perfect thriller.

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