Michael Robotham: Bleed for Me Sunday, Mar 18 2012 

Clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is one of my favorite series characters. Dealing with the daily effects of “Mr. Parkinson,” Joe is separated from the wife he still loves. Living outside Bristol near them, his life is entwined with Julianne and their two girls, Charlotte and Emily.  In Bleed for Me, Joe is waiting for his marriage to formally end, and for his own acceptance of that: “I’m still thinking about what Coop said about life leading somewhere or meaning something. Mine doesn’t. I am living in a kind of limbo, a lull in proceedings. I am waiting for my wife to have me back–when I should be seizing every day and living it like it could be my last.”

O’Loughlin understands pain and grief: of losing a child, as he almost lost Charlotte in a previous novel; of losing his functioning, as he battles his disease on a daily basis and its effects; of losing the life he thought was perfect. When Sienna Hegarty, Charlotte’s best friend, tells him “You’re kind of broken,” we understand she is telling the truth.

But is Sienna telling the truth when she insists she hasn’t killed her father? She shows up at Julianne’s home, covered in blood, and runs away. Joe goes after her and finds her, shivering and almost catatonic, on the river bank. The blood is her dead father’s, a celebrated former policeman found in Sienna’s bedroom with his throat cut. Sienna’s trauma has pushed the details of the incident away but she is convinced that she isn’t a murderer–and so is Joe O’Loughlin.

Sienna is the obvious suspect when her history with her father comes to light, yet O’Loughlin is convinced there is a more devious murderer at work. Assigned to give the court a clinical profile of Sienna, he pursues his own investigation of her father’s murder in the hope at first it will win him back Charlotte’s affection. With the aid of a retired detective, he ferrets out a widening circle of hypocrisy and crime that may do more than explain Sienna’s actions. As the plot escalates, the circle of terror widens to a crushing climax.

Robotham’s disturbing storyline is all too realistic, as are the fine characters he creates, multifaceted and complex, at times downright chilling. His story is clever and compelling, a terrific psychological thriller that has a fast pace yet at times is achingly moving. There are flashes of unexpected humor, too, as when O’Loughlin unexpectedly finds himself conversing with the man who sees himself as Julianne’s next husband and is waiting to take her out. O’Loughlin doesn’t hesitate to explain she won’t be long because she’s just upstairs “taking her medication,” and instructs her suitor not to let her order dessert–even as he admits to himself that “the love you want to save won’t survive the constraints of jealousy … Love is either equal or a tragedy.”

Author Linwood Barclay says: “Michael Robotham doesn’t just make me scared for his characters; he makes my heart ache for them.”

Don’t miss this remarkable novel that combines subtlety with an intimate knowledge of human nature and builds suspense with a masterful touch.

Twofer: Mo Hayder Monday, Apr 25 2011 

Readers first met DI Jack Caffery in the unusual novel Birdman, about a series of ritualistic killings. He next appears in Hayder’s , a genuinely frightening thriller. With Ritual and its follow-up Skin, Hayder has introduced a new character to work alongside Caffery. Police diver Flea (Phoebe) Marley, 26 and skinny, with a head of wild hair and widely spaced blue eyes that make her look even younger.

In Ritual, Flea  finds a severed hand while diving in a dense, muddy area of Bristol’s wharf. When Caffery is called in on the case, it is soon established that the hand belongs to a recently disappeared young man.

As the two search for his abductor, they find themselves poking into Bristol’s dark underworld. A waitress near the dock claims to have seen a young, naked man on the dock the night before the murder. As they investigate the area, filled with drug addiction and street kids prostituting themselves for their next hit, they stumble across a disturbing African ritual which appears to be connected. The plot comes together in swift ripples and more dives for Flea, that are accompanied by hallucinations of her mother calling for her. Both of Flea’s parents died in a freakish diving accident,which adds to her background and to the plot.

Skin features the unlikely twosome once again. Still bothered by hallucinations, Flea is becoming aware that her feelings for Caffery are stretching beyond their professional boundaries.

A decomposed body of a young woman is found near railroad tracks. Initially thought to be a suicide, Caffery doesn’t agree. While he investigates, Flea’s diving in an abandoned quarry brings her close–too close–to a macabre sighting. Or was it narcosis?

And then there’s the matter of Flea’s brother, Thom, a young man under the spell of an older woman, Mandy, who orders him around. As the investigation increases, another young woman goes missing, and Thom’s trouble becomes Flea’s trouble. Where will Caffery stand in all this? Can Flea turn Mandy into a friend instead of a foe?

Hayder’s books are entertaining and haunting, and even with a touch of the macabre in these two, will keep you riveted.

Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews