In The Blink of An Eye – Jo Callaghan | Paperback Publication Day | Review Feature | @JoCallaghanKat @simonschusterUK @Tr4cyF3nt0n

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?

In the Blink of an Eye is a dazzling debut from an exciting new voice and asks us what we think it means to be human.

My thanks to Tracey Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part in the paperback publication celebrations for In The Blink of An Eye with its snazzy new cover. I read this fabulous debut in December 2022, prior to the hardback being released in January 2023 and was wowed by its originality, the superb writing and the suspenseful plot. I’ve been asked to re-share my review and am very happy to do so.

In The Blink of An Eye has enjoyed much success since its publication. It was selected for Val McDermid’s New Blood Panel at Harrogate Crime Festival and reviewed and recommended on BBC 2’s Book Club show Between the Covers. It is currently Waterstones Thriller of the Month for January 2024.


As soon as I saw this debut from Jo Callaghan being mentioned, it was one I wanted to read. My thanks to the publisher and to @likely_suspects for the proof copy to review.

Being honest, I normally run a mile from traditional science fiction but the combination of crime fiction and AI made this such a fascinating concept that I couldn’t resist. It follows the usual crime procedural in that you have a team of detectives but which includes AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock. With its different image settings and ethnicities Lock can transform into a 3D hologram of a human, a visual experience that I imagine would be quite astonishing.

Returning to the Warwickshire force after a difficult personal time, DCS Kat Frank is given the task of piloting AIDE with a review of cold cases involving missing people. This wasn’t an entirely one sided narrative and the cases that were chosen were especially intriguing, made even more so by a few anonymous chapters, both worrying and distressing.

Lock has been programmed to provide analysis and admin support which it can do in a fraction of the time it would take an officer but what it doesn’t have is that human mind. That hunch. That gut feeling. How to be empathetic when necessary – there are emotions and reactions that Lock needs to learn to be a complete success. A device is given to Kat to communicate with Lock and its fair to say that she has major issues with the whole prospect of the pilot. I know Lock didn’t have feelings but I actually winced at times at her rudeness to it. However, there is a reason for her antagonism which when revealed, adds another depth to Kat’s character.

This was such a different concept to a police procedural but it worked so well. The pacing was spot on and the development of the story was so well written I was completely invested in the outcome (which I didn’t guess correctly). Kat was a feisty character, she had 25 years of experience in the force and did not hold back on her opinions. Having said that, she was also very human and there were times during the investigation when she came close to breaking point.

I really enjoyed this pairing of detective and machine and it was fascinating to see the interactions and development of the partnership with Kat’s gut feelings and emotional responses often in contradiction with Lock’s cold hard logic. Lock was a brilliant character in its own right and produced moments of humour with its honest and unfiltered comments and I actually became quite fond of it, (I had to remember to think of Lock as an ‘it’ and not a ‘him’ – not least because of its default hologram setting being a 6ft tall male). I was delighted to see that this is the first of a series and that a book 2 is planned. There is so much promise here with this concept that I’d love to see this team return in future and will certainly be there for the next investigation!

In the Blink of an Eye is published on 19 January 2023. This is one I recommend you have on your book list.

I can’t recommend this book enough. The second book Leave No Trace is due to be published at the end of March and I’m so looking forward to the return of Kat and Lock.

Jo works full-time as a senior strategist, where she has carried out research into the future impact of AI and genomics on the workforce. After losing her husband to cancer in 2019, she started writing In The Blink of An Eye. She lives with her two children in the Midlands, where she is currently writing the second novel in the series.

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