Micahel Robotham’s Professor Joe O’Loughlin is one of Auntie M’s favorite characters, ever. The psychologist struggling with Parkinson’s and grief, trying to parent his two growing daughters, has his shaking hands full again in The Other Wife.

When the call comes that his well-known and respected surgeon father, retired but still admired, has suffered an horrific attack and had to have brain surgery, Joe rushes to the ICU to find a strange woman, covered in his father’s blood, at his bedside.

This is the woman who found William O’Loughlin lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the home she claims they share when William is in London, away from the home he shares in Wales with his wife of sixty years and Joe’s mother.

Olivia Blackstone is William’s other wife, married in a Buddhist ceremony, and bringing her own baggage along.

If it’s a shock to readers, we can only imagine the shock Joe must feel as he absorbs this radical new view of his father–the distant, cool man who raised him contrasts sharply with photos Olivia shares to prove their relationship.

This other man is smiling, brighter, happier than Joe has ever seen him. But regardless of the painful reality of his father having led two lives for over twenty years, comes the stark realization that someone wanted him dead, and the suspects start to mount up. It doesn’t help that the lead detective on the case doesn’t like Joe, which adds to the complications.

Counting on his good friend, retired police detective Vincent Ruiz, Joe will try to keep his daughters safe even as the younger, Emma, has her own struggles with the loss the previous year of her mother. With older sister Charlie now studying psychology at Oxford, Joe will lean on her to help Emma as he turns to tracing his father’s movements and the behavior that led to this attack.

There are even more surprises as the plot twists and take unexpected turns, but one thing readers can count on is Robotham’s ability to make them care about Joe and his family. There is even a small sense of triumph with the resolution of his father’s situation, one readers will smile at as it reveals Joe’s own human side.

This writing is exceptional. There is a huge sense of the author understanding human emotions and frailties, and being able to translate that to the page in such a subtle way that readers will wish, somehow, that Joe O’Loughlin was their friend. It’s why Vince sticks around, and Charlie and Emma love him. You will, too.

Auntie M is always moved by Robotham’s last chapters. Always.

Highly recommended.

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