Saturday, June 11, 2016

Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

First Sentence:  My mother died with her head in another man’s lap.

Psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin swore he would no longer work with the police, and is pleased to have been asked to spend the summer with his wife and daughters, from whom he is it separated but still loves.  A call from DCS Veronica (Ronnie) Cray changes the first part of those plans with a request for him to look at the crime scene where a mother and daughter were murdered.  Learning that another psychologist, who Joe knew slightly, is claiming to have learnt “everything he knows” from Joe, piques his interest and draws him into a life-changing series of events.

It’s an opening which certainly captures our attention, both the event and evocativeness of the writing—“It was a though she had taken hold of a loose thread and the further she drove away from me the more the thread unraveled like a cheap sweater….”.  It’s a hard balance, having the voice of the killer run through the book, creating suspense, drawing us closer to understanding the motive, and yet not exposing the killer’s identity or being too intrusive to the principle thread of the story.  It’s a device which has become commonly used; perhaps too much so, but it does work here.

Even down to his name, Joe is a character with whom one can identify; he has Parkinson’s, is separated from a wife and two daughters he loves, and hopes for reconciliation.  He takes pride in what he does, takes offense when someone uses his name to promote their own agenda, and has a determination to uncover the truth—“You’re not going to stop, are you?”  “I don’t’ know how.” Even beyond his family, the two main characters supporting him, DCS Cray, and Vincent Ruiz, a former cop who once arrested Joe and then became his friend, are strong, interesting characters.  Milo, who capitalized on Joe’s name and reputation, exemplifies today’s world of pop “experts” who are more interested in fame and money, giving the public easy and quick answers to complicated problems and issues.  

This is an author who makes one think—“And yet…yet…we are the sum total of our experiences.  We are who we are because of what happened…”  His analogies are always on target--“Death is supposed to be the final act, yet so much is left unfinished when someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly.  It’s as though they’ve walked offstage in the middle of the performance, hoping to come back later to explain the plot and tie up any loose ends."  His observations about people are fascinating and make one realize how much we must give away about ourselves without even realizing it.

The plot has a very good balance of the investigation, of which the procedural aspects are realistic, and Joe’s personal life.  The twists are well done, as is the escalation of suspense and sense of danger.  There are a plethora of suspects.  Even Joe feels overwhelmed at one point—“There are too many names, too many possibilities.”  Yet, he defies you to identify the killer.

Close Your Eyes” has excellent suspense and danger which builds frighteningly, and a conclusion that causes one to question where Robotham is going from here, but you definitely want to know the answer.

CLOSE YOUR EYES (Psy Susp-Joe O’Laughlin-England-Cont) – VG+
Michael Robotham – 8th in series
Mulholland Books, April 2016

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