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Friday, May 23, 2014

Two by Michael Robotham

A couple of months ago,  I read Watching You by Michael Robotham and found it suspenseful and well-written.  At the time, I knew I wanted to read more, beginning with the first book in the series to get additional background on the characters.

Fortunately, NetGalley recently offered the first two books in the series:  The Suspect and Lost.  I snapped them both up and entered a two day read-a-thon.  

The Suspect centers on Joe O'Loughlin, a successful psychologist who loves his wife and child.  One of the things I was curious about was O'Loughlin's Parkinson Disease. The Suspect (the debut book in the series) covers the early symptoms and the period when he first gets the diagnosis.  It also goes into some of O'Loughlin's struggles to deal with both the physical and the emotional effects of this incurable disease.

Written in first person, the book opens with O'Loughlin on a roof trying to talk down a seventeen-year-old cancer patient who seems determined to jump.  The scene sets O'Loughlin up as an empathetic character.  

While he may be a respected psychologist and a compassionate person, O'Loughlin is far from perfect.  When he is drawn into a murder investigation, he realizes that the victim is a former patient, but doesn't reveal this right away.  As the novel twists and turns, it becomes obvious that O'Loughlin has some secrets he doesn't want revealed and that  he is being set up and may lose everything he holds dear.

Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz becomes suspicious, and as more evidence piles up, he is unrelenting in his pursuit when O'Loughlin flees to avoid arrest.  Ruiz is a secondary character and mostly an antagonist in this first novel.

The mystery is convoluted and the plot not very believable, and yet, Robotham is so skilled that it is difficult to put the book down.   I couldn't wait to begin the next one.  

NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Mystery/Crime.  2004; 2014.  Print length:  432 pages.

Lost takes place a few years later and features D. I. Vincent Ruiz.  Like The Suspect, Lost is written in first person. D.I. Ruiz is pulled from the Thames with a gunshot wound and no memory of what happened.  Not everyone believes his amnesia to be genuine, and Ruiz turns to his friend Joe O'Loughlin to help him untangle what happened.

Ruiz knows that that somehow what happened to him is connected to the case of a missing child from three years earlier.  A step at a time, he regains fragments of his memory....

Another excellent mystery with lots of complications.  Joe O'Loughlin's role in this one is minimal.  

I've now read three books in this series, and each one features a different character.  I'm not sure I've read any other series with this approach; usually, a series will focus on one or two main characters and a single point of view throughout the series.  In Watching You, the main character is one of O'Loughlin's patients, in The Suspect, the protagonist is Joe O'Loughlin, and in Lost, it is D.I. Vincent Ruiz.  I like this approach and can't wait to read Shatter.  

NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Mystery/Crime.  2005; 2014.  Print length:  370 pages.


  1. There's a lot more books around like The Suspect now, but I remember when it came out it was a bit of a game-changer for that sort of genre -- a more continental feel to the detective, for instance, and the feel that it was hard to get a good grip on hero/anti-hero thing with O'Loughlin. I think I'm a few behind now though - did enjoy all the ones so far tho'.

  2. The hero/anti-hero aspect is interesting--both O'Loughlin and Ruiz come across as "every man" in a way. Their flaws are not the romantic flaws some protagonists have. Robotham is a skilled writer in many ways.

  3. I like the differing narratives too. The only other series I can think of that is similar I've read is Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld books, which I'm still working my way through. Those aren't really mysteries though. :-)

  4. Wendy - I've only read one by Armstrong, the first in the Cainsville series, and I've been eagerly awaiting the next one!