🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
When the body of a young woman is found following an anonymous tip-off, coincidentally psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is close to the scene. But when it turns out that he also knew the victim and even had what could be seen as a motive, Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz’s belief in coincidence is stretched past breaking point. As he becomes the chief suspect, Joe finds he must investigate the crime himself to find out why everything about it seems to lead back to him. And suddenly Joe finds himself in danger of losing everything he holds dear – his beloved wife and daughter, his career, perhaps even his life…
Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Robotham’s most recent book, Watching You, I jumped at the chance to backtrack to the first in the Joe O’Loughlin series, currently being reissued in paperback by Mulholland Books. I’m pleased to say that this one shows all the same hallmarks that made the later book so good.
Joe is a likeable protagonist and very well-drawn. As we meet him here for the first time, his life seems fairly idyllic – happy family, a job that he loves, good friends. But we soon discover that even before the crime comes to light Joe’s life has been rocked to its foundations as he has been diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Still in its early stages, it’s not directly affecting Joe’s life too badly yet, but he’s struggling to come to terms with it and his wife feels he’s shutting her out. And his reaction to getting the diagnosis caused him to do some things that are now coming back to haunt him.
The plot twists and turns and keeps some surprises back till the end. Although Joe quickly comes to suspect who’s behind the murders, the mystery is in the how and why of the crimes – not just why the victims are being murdered, but why Joe seems to be being targeted as the fallguy. The pacing falters a bit from time to time – I felt the book could have been shorter without losing anything important – but on the whole it keeps the reader’s attention throughout. There are a few inconsistencies, but nothing too major, and although the story does cross over the credulity line on occasion, the quality of Robotham’s story-telling stops this from being too much of a problem.
Sadly the book is written in the ever-clumsy first person present tense (will that bandwagon never pass?) so we have exciting bits like Joe possibly drowning but apparently being able to jot down his thoughts contemporaneously – the moral being to always go equipped with a waterproof notebook and pen, I suppose. This did detract from the enjoyment for me, much more than it did in the later book which is also written in the present tense but in the slightly more palatable third person, so it’s good to know that at some point in the series, Robotham has varied the style (note to other authors – try it! Or better yet, try past tense!)
Overall, this is a high quality thriller which confirms that the series is well worth following – I’ll certainly be going on to read the next one, Lost. Although I found the later book Watching You worked fine as a standalone, I enjoyed getting to know the characters and backstories of Joe and Vincent Ruiz better from this one. So despite a few weaknesses, highly recommended – especially if you don’t share my aversion to the dreaded first person present tense.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Mulholland Books.