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by Michael Robotham
Sphere, May 2007
416 pages
10.00 GBP
ISBN: 1847440169

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

If you've been keeping up with Michael Robotham's loosely linked series, you'll recall Ali Barba from the previous outing. Now she has a book of her own.

Ali short for Alisha is a DC in the Metropolitan Police. She's been on sick leave after breaking her back when she was dropped on a wall in THE DROWNING MAN (also known as LOST). She's fit again, but it looks like the powers that be have decided she can't go back to the diplomatic protection squad. Instead (and you can almost see their eyes gleaming), she's destined for the recruitment unit. Just think how useful a young Sikh woman will be there . . .

Alisha is decidedly underwhelmed by this new posting. But she has something else on her mind. Her childhood friend Cate has got back in touch, begging Alisha to attend a school reunion. The pair fell out some years ago, but Alisha is curious and turns up to the event only to see the pregnant Cate badly injured and her husband killed in a car accident.

Asking questions gets Alisha tangled up with a thuggish former school, the spooks and Cate's strange parents. And before too much longer Alisha and her former boss Vincent Ruiz are on their way to Amsterdam as they investigate a dark world of slavery and sex trafficking.

This is another excellent addition to a consistently strong series. Robotham, a natural storyteller, has kept it fresh by switching the focus on each book first time out it was shirnk Joe O'Laughlin, then it was Ruiz, and this time it's Alisha.

Robotham is one of the few writers who can write a story in the present tense without it seeming affected and precious. And he can also write convincingly from a female point of view. Alisha is a fabulous character a former runner who didn't quite make it to the Sydney Olympics, and who is trying to deal with her traditional Sikh family on one hand, and her white boyfriend and colleague Dave on the other. There are some dryly humorous scenes involving Alisha and the family, particularly her mother.

The book's a thoroughly good page-turner, but really comes alive in the middle section with some very scary scenes on a North Sea ferry I made the mistake of reading this bit before I went to bed! Robotham's a cracking writer and deserves far wider recognition.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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