As if we didn’t already love Michael Robotham’s signature brand of clever, unputdownable thrillers, he has done it all over again with a thriller that ticks all the boxes but is also tender, moving and insightful.
Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin has given up investigating gritty crimes. He’s focusing on his family, wooing back his ex-wife and nurturing his young daughters – Charlie, who is about to go off to university, and ten-year-old Emma. He’s living with Parkinson’s disease and his beloved ex has her own health fears to face. But then comes a call from DCS Kray who desperately needs help with a brutal and mysterious double murder of a mother and daughter.
O’Loughlin knows he should say no, but Kray reels him when she tells him another bogus psychologist is using his name and stuffing up the case. He brings in his old partner, ex-cop Vincent Ruiz, but still the case won’t crack. In the meantime, a series of brutal attacks occurs, with each of the victims having ‘A’ for adulterer carved into the foreheads. The attacks may or may not be connected to the farmhouse murders.
The novel is a continuation of the O’Loughlin/Ruiz novels that Robotham fans know and love, but for newcomers Close Your Eyes can be read standalone. As usual, the pace is fast and it’s really hard to get to sleep at night with a Robotham thriller unread by your bed. This one keeps you guessing until the very end with a line-up of suspects that all seem plausible.
But from the start O’Loughlin’s intimate first person narrative is interspersed with narration directly from the killer – even though we don’t know who he is. This builds tension and means we get closer to the killer and know more about what’s going than O’Loughlin does.
For anyone not already a Robotham fan, he is an Australian writer whose work has won multiple awards here and and in the UK where many of his novels, including this one, are set. His fans are legion, and include Stephen King who described Robotham as an ‘absolute master’.
As well as having all the elements of a great thiller, Robotham touches on fatherhood, relationships, grieving and mortality. The main action is woven with O’Loughlin’s personal life and this makes for a dramatic and nail-biting close to the novel. Be warned that once you start this novel, you may not be able to put it down.