First Sentence: "Which one is she?" I ask, leaning closer to the observation window.
Six years after self-named Evie Comac was found hiding in a secret room, the institution where she is living asks psychologist Cyrus Haven to determine whether she can be released to live on her own. No one knows, nor has she said, who she really is or what she has experienced, but a determination must be made. Cyrus has a history of his own with which he must deal, but his job also calls upon him to help investigate the murder of Jodie Sheehan, a popular, talented high-school figure skater. Tasked with these two cases, and his own issues, it is up to Cyrus to do what is right Evie and find justice for Jodie.
Unusual, quirky characters can be intriguing when they are well-written yet still realistic. Robotham accomplishes that, and much more. He begins with the very intriguing premise that some few people are "truth wizards," that they can intuitively know whether someone is lying. That Evie, who is also defined as being--"…dyslexic. Antisocial. Aggressive"-- is one such person adds a dimension beyond everything through which she has been and compels one to want to know more. Cyrus, too, has a past beyond imaging. That the author puts these two emotionally damaged characters together demonstrates the strength of the human spirit and determination to survive. Both characters are unique and fascinating. Nothing about either of them is what one would expect.
It's a pleasure when something causes one to stop and consider--"When I run, my thoughts become clearer. When I run, I imagine that I'm keeping pace with a planet that turns too quickly for me." Rather than slow down the flow of the story, it adds depth and richness to it.
The story does alternate between the two lead characters. Being inside Evie's mind can be painful to read, and all the more so for knowing there are real children who feel as she does about herself. The descriptions of deaths are brutal but done in a way that is factual and not gratuitous or salacious. Even so, Robotham finds the perfect way to inject just a bit of wry humor—"'Who found her?' 'A woman walking her dog.' Why is it always someone walking a dog?"
The investigation into Jodie's death takes one down a very twisted path filled with surprises. The only slight criticism is that the resolution seemed over the top. What one can truly appreciate is that, even at the end, both Evie and Cyrus remain enigmatic.
"Good Girl, Bad Girl" is a strong, character-driven story. It is very well-written and filled with well-done twists. One rather hopes this is the start of a new series. Even if it's not, this is a book, and characters, which stay with one long after closing the cover.
GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL (PsySusp-Cyrus Haven-England-Contemp) – VG+
Robotham, Michael - StandaloneScribner, July 2019