Eye of the Whale

A Novel

Eye of the Whale

Filled with “breathtaking scenes” and “vivid” (Publishers Weekly) imagery, national bestselling author Douglas Carlton Abrams’s riveting ecological thriller blends shockingly true facts with a powerful narrative that pulls readers into a dangerous race through a majestic and mysterious world.

Dedicated scientist Elizabeth McKay has spent almost a decade cracking the code of humpback whale communication. Their song, the most complex in nature, may in fact reveal unimaginable secrets about the animal world. When a humpback whale swims up the Sacramento River with a strange and unprecedented song, Elizabeth must decipher its meaning in order to save the whale and ultimately much more. But as her work captures the media’s interest, powerful forces emerge to stop her from revealing the animal’s secrets. Soon, Elizabeth is forced to decide if her discoveries are worth losing her marriage, her career, and possibly her life.

Working closely with leading scientists for his extensive research into humpback whales and the harrowing ecological challenges they face today, national bestselling author Douglas Carlton Abrams has created a unique and timeless story that will transform readers and their relationship with the fragile world in which we live.
  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416532552 | 
  • September 2010
List Price $18.99 (price may vary by retailer)



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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Eye of the Whale includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Douglas Carlton Abrams. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. 


Elizabeth McKay is a dedicated marine biology student who has traveled the world attempting to crack the seemingly impossible code of humpback whale communication. When an injured humpback swims up the Sacramento River, Elizabeth must decipher his strange and unprecedented song in order to save him. She soon finds herself a media sensation as the world eagerly tunes in to her work with the stranded whale. But as she comes closer to discovering the truth, powerful forces emerge that do not want the whale’s secrets revealed and will do anything it takes to get what they want. With her marriage, career, and life at stake, Elizabeth must make drastic choices that will have greater consequences than she could possibly imagine. 


Questions for Discussion

1. How does Abrams foreshadow some of the events of the novel? Consider symbols such as Elizabeth’s wedding ring and the behaviors of various characters.

2. Discuss the theme of parent–chi see more

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About the Author

Douglas Carlton Abrams
Photograph © Susan Shacter

Douglas Carlton Abrams

Douglas Carlton Abrams is the nationally bestselling author of The Lost Diary of Don Juan, which has been published in thirty languages.  He writes fact-based fiction and did extensive research for his new novel, including swimming with and recording humpback whales, meeting present-day whalers, and cage diving with great white sharks. Previously an editor at the University at California Press and HarperCollins, he is the cofounder of Idea Architects, a book and media development agency.