Today, Hartford Books Examiner offers a “pub date” review of Say You’re Sorry (Mulholland Books, $24.99) by Michael Robotham.
Say You’re Sorry is the author’s third release from Mulholland Books (US) and features recurring characters Joseph O’Loughlin, clinical psychologist, and former cop Vincent Ruiz. While the two have appeared in previous books (both domestic and international), the story stands strong on its own merits.
As Say You’re Sorry opens, readers are exposed to two incidents that, at first glance, appear to be separate: the three-year-old disappearance of teenagers Natasha (“Tash”) McBain and Piper Hadley and the brutal murder of a husband and wife in their farmhouse. Joseph O’Loughlin is asked to assist local authorities with their investigation of the double-homicide and soon discovers indisputable links between the two crimes – including the fact that Tash once lived in the farmhouse.
O’Loughlin is a likable protagonist, sensitive yet steadfast, whose professional life is further complicated by personal matters. Not only is he separated from his wife, who he continually disappoints, but he must balance his work obligations with the supervision of his fifteen-year-old (going on thirty) daughter, Charlie. It’s a fine line between father and friend, and a delicate one to navigate. Arguably, it’s also this relationship that spurs on O’Loughlin’s dedication to unearthing the truth in Tash and Piper’s disappearance – an event that devastated families and galvanized a community but still remains shrouded in uncertainty.
Piper Hadley is the story’s other protagonist, and her voice is captured in alternating chapters. She’s alive but very much in jeopardy, as becomes apparent in her increasingly desperate dispatches. These divisions not only serve to ratchet up the suspense (as well as to evoke an emotional investment on the part of the reader) but also to illuminate a variety of issues that are often manifested in adolescence – the nature of friends and family, group dynamics, and the perception of victim versus martyr among them.
The dual storylines complement one another nicely, effectively placing the reader inside both the investigation and the mind of a victim. As you hit the snowy streets with O’Loughlin – and it should be noted that the inclusion of plentiful atmospheric nuances help to establish the rather desolate setting – as he makes inroads with Piper’s family, friends and acquaintances, you are also afforded Piper’s recollection of people and places; it’s an enlightening exercise that provides a “big picture” overview to a multi-layered scenario.
Robotham is a masterful and methodical storyteller whose crime fiction is skillfully enhanced by his experiences as an investigative journalist. Not only does he understand the ins and outs of criminal inquiries – and the inevitable leads, and false leads, that often stymie authorities (and genre readers) – but he also grasps the complexities of the human psyche. Say You’re Sorry benefits from this knowledge, offering up a taut and thrilling narrative that is buttressed by a strong sense of realism, engaging characters and a multitude of twists and turns to keep readers guessing. Once you crack the cover, you’ll be hard-pressed to stop turning pages until you reach the end…
With thanks to Miriam Parker of Mulholland Books for providing a review copy of Say You’re Sorry.