"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Review: Suspect by Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham, a former investigative journalist from Britain and Australia has crafted a marvelous debut novel. "The Suspect" is a very tight, exciting thriller that stays intently focused on character and psychology supported by the leanest of realistic plots somehow managing, despite this simplicity, to be both bizarre and frightening at the same time! How wonderful is that?

Joe O'Loughlin is a successful career psychiatrist blessed with a wonderful loving wife and child. But when Catherine McBride, a former patient who once filed suit against him for sexual misconduct, is found murdered, horribly mutilated and buried in a shallow grave, O'Loughlin finds himself at the top of the list of the police suspects. Coincidentally occurring on the night of the murder, his alibi is his sole marital misstep with ex-prostitute Elisa but a misguided sense of honour, coupled with an all too human male fear of the results for his marriage, means he keeps mum.

Unlike other more mundane, mainstream thrillers, "The Suspect" makes no attempt to lead the reader too far astray with a typical collection of twists, turns or red herrings. The culprit, Robert Moran, another very deeply disturbed patient of O'Loughlin's practice is revealed to us early in the novel. The goose bumps in this novel are forced on us by the dark, creepy dialogue of Moran's therapy sessions and O'Loughlin's heart-rending attempts to maintain honour, professionalism and client confidentiality in the face of the almost certain knowledge of more murders to come. DI Vincent Ruiz piles up an astonishing array of circumstantial evidence and like The Da Vinci Code's Bezu Fache, the proverbial bull terrier with a bone who will not let go, Ruiz doggedly pursues O'Loughlin as his prime suspect in the brutal string of murders.

The characterization and humanity in the novel is served up in monstrous helpings with lots of garnish - O'Loughlin deals with the onset of Parkinson's disease and its effects on his daily living; Elisa, the reformed prostitute struggles bravely with her past and strong affection for O'Loughlin; Catherine McBride, the first victim, is a very troubled victim herself dealing with the mental demons of a difficult up-bringing and self-mutilation; and Ruiz, realizing his old-style, blunt, brutish methods of policing have dated him and are threatening his career, is determined to bring the murderer to justice against all odds.

A complex novel, no doubt, but so well-constructed that I had no difficulty following all of the well-maintained threads and plots! "The Suspect" is a fast-paced, nail-biting, believable and authentic thriller. He is definitely a new author that I will continue read.

No comments: