GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL by Michael Robotham (Hachette, $A32.99 or £19.99). Released late July in Australia and the United Kingdom
Michael Robotham is one of my favourite authors and his books are always a highlight of my reading year
The Sydney-based Gold Dagger Award winner is probably best known for his popular creation, London clinical psychologist and occasional police adviser Joe O’Loughlin, who battles with the effects of Parkinson’s disease. In Good Girl, Bad Girl, however, he brings another psychologist to the fore, Cyrus Haven, who had a secondary role in the standalone novel The Secrets She Keeps.
Six years ago, a young teenage girl, subsequently named Evie Cormac, was discovered hiding in a secret room in a house, which was the site of a brutal murder. Half-starved and unkempt, she refused to tell the police her name, her age or where she came from. Now she is living in a secure children’s home and has initiated court action to be released as an adult. Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven is asked to determine whether she is ready to be let loose. Self-destructive and uncensored in her views, Evie is unlike anyone he has met before. As he starts his assessment, Haven comes to realise that she has also the rare gift of being able to tell if someone is telling the truth, or not.
Meanwhile Haven has also been called in to help the police with the investigation into the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who was killed on a lonely path near her home. As the police desperately try to find Jodie’s killer, Haven finds himself increasingly entangled in Evie’s predicament and troubled by the willingness of the police to find a quick solution to Jodie’s murder.
This is a very enjoyable psychological police thriller that mixes together familiar elements of the crime novel and elevates them into something more substantial through Robotham’s superior writing, clever plotting and credible characters. The story moves at a good pace and quickly catches the reader up in its thrall as Robotham expertly moves the story through a series of twists and turns to the heart felt climax.
The viewpoint in the novel moves between the troubled Evie and the flawed Haven, who is also haunted by his own past. Similar to Joe O’Loughlin, Cyrus Haven lacks some of the social graces, but is driven by a keen intelligence and a nice sense of compassion, which drives the book. As the story unfolds, we learn more of his background and he develops into a substantial and interesting character. He is also well matched by the difficult, but fascinating Evie.
In all, Good Girl, Bad Girl is a very enjoyable crime novel that is enhanced by some fine writing and the occasional dollop of wry humour. It will keep you entertained and eagerly turning the pages all the way to final twist and will leave you keenly awaiting the return of Cyrus Haven and Evie.
Four and a half stars out of five!
Thanks to Hachette Australia and the Canberra Weekly for an advanced copy of the book.