Tuesday, September 15, 2020

When She Was Good by Michael Robotham

First Sentence:  Late Spring.  Morning cold. A small wooden boat emerges from the mist, sliding forward with each pull on the oars.

 In this follow-up to "Good Girl, Bad Girl" the mystery of Evie Cormac continues.  Found hidden away in the hidden room off the bedroom where a man was tortured and killed, the question remains as to whether he was her kidnapper or her protector.  Although the press are still curious, someone more sinister is after the information, and Evie, while psychologist Cyrus Haven, plagued with monsters of his own past, teams up with Sacha Hopewell, the former Constable, who found Evie, to try to protect her.

 There are several elements needed for a memorable book and description/sense of place is one.  Robatham has that well in hand—"The air outside smells of drying seaweed and wood smoke, and the distant hills are edged in orange where God has opened the furnace door and stoked the coals for a new day."

 It is useful to have already read the prior book. However, Robotham not only fills in the backstory of Evie, but includes now information.  The way in which Cyrus' background is conveyed is brilliantly understated yet establishes an important link.  We also learn much more about Terry Boland, the man whose body was found in the house where Evie was hiding.  

This is a dark book.  Robotham has written a clear and strong example of the impact of abandonment.  Then he changes the pace with a surprising plot twist and an example of Edie's ability as a truth wizard—one who can tell when others are lying.

There are observations that cause one to pause and are relevant to today—"The real power belongs to the people who control information… Individuals who can suppress stories, fix problems, spin news, and plant false information."—and make us think of current situations—"…is a classic sociopath, who seeks power and influence rather than fame.  Where others notice the beauty in the world, he sees only how it could benefit him.  Relationships are designed to further his own interest.  It's not about loving or hating but about duplicity and deception and his own corrupt lust."  Intended or not, and although the author is an Australian living in England, the story cannot help but make one think of current events.

 "When She Was Good" is a complicated story with unique characters and a satisfactory ending.  Slow in places, it picks up with well-done twists. 

WHEN SHE WAS GOOD (PsySusp-Cyrus Haven/Evie Cormac/England-Contemp) – G+
Robotham, Michael – 2nd in series
Scribner – Jul 2020  

1 comment:

  1. No doubt about it, Robotham is so skilled at description, and at evoking place and atmosphere. And he's good at painting a dark picture without being relentlessly bleak. I truly wish he wouldn't write in the present tense, because that pulls me right out of a story. Still, that's me; not everyone feels that way. And his stories do draw the reader in. Glad you enjoyed this one.