Good Girl Bad Girl, Michael Robotham
Set in the UK, GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL presents us with two female victims of crime; one murdered, another who was subjected to terrible abuse as a child and is soon to be released from the British social welfare system. Robotham fans will be forgiven for thinking same same, but different. Yes, we have a new psychologist protagonist with Cyrus Haven being a physical (at least, so far) upgrade on the older model. Do we feel, after finishing GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL, the same way about Cyrus as what we’ve felt up to now for Joe McLaughlin? Not yet, but give it time, this is the first novel of a whole new crime series. Let’s see if we’d take a bullet for Cyrus in the same way we would have done for Joe – Robotham’s characterization is THAT strong and one of the reasons why, we’re sure, that Robotham has become the ‘author’s author’, evidently on the reading list of many fiction titans who regularly recommend his books (hello Uncle Stevie).
If this is your first Michael Robotham read, GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL we promise would be an excellent introduction to this bestselling Australian author. Nothing like getting in on the ground floor with a new series and this thoughtful work is exactly what this reader felt like reading at this particular point of time – plus it needed to be written by THIS author who is never careless with his reader’s high expectations and sensibilities. It is comforting that the grown ups are still in the room. There are unspoken indictments included here about how ill prepared institutionalized survivors of severe trauma can be when released as adults under their own cognizance. UK readers of this book would identify for sure with more of these concerns.
There is always some carry home sweet melancholy after the reading of a Robotham novel and GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL is no exception to this. Oddly for works of crime fiction there’s always hope to be chanced upon, glimmering in the darkness, propelling the reader onwards, and perhaps just a little upwards. Robotham does not always include (the often onerous) redemptive arcs that we crime fiction fans are used to encountering in our regular reads. Robotham’s creations spring believably, but not necessarily fully formed to the page, and it’s not long before we’re fully invested in what they must experience and emerge from. As a series first, GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL is a solid and intriguing thriller, seeded just enough with threads for future works, plus ambiguity about what is in the past of its lead Cyrus Haven.
Michael Robotham was an investigative journalist before becoming a novelist and has reliably churned out quality crime thrillers since his debut thriller, THE SUSPECT, was welcomed into the world. We recommend reading them all in order, as you will then appreciate just how much your heart will be ripped out when any of his characters are hurt, over and over again. Sorry! There are many award winners in the mix, including two Ned Kelly Awards and a CWA Golden Dagger award.
A girl is found hiding in a secret room in a house being renovated after a terrible crime. For weeks she has survived by sneaking out at night, stealing food for herself and two dogs that are kept in the garden. The nurses at the hospital where she is taken call her “Angel Face” because she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen, or somewhere in between. She doesn’t appear on any missing person’s file, or match the DNA of any murder victim.
Six years later, still unidentified, the same girl is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac, when she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult. Psychologist Cyrus Haven is sent to interview Evie and decide if she’s ready to go free, but Evie Cormac is unlike he’s anyone he’s ever met. She’s damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift, or a curse, that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with—the ability to tell when someone is lying. Soon he is embroiled in her unique and dangerous world, his life in utmost peril.