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by Michael Robotham
Sphere, February 2008
480 pages
9.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847441777

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Psychologist Joe McLoughlin is suffering from one of those 'being in the wrong place at the wrong time' moments. Some part-time lecturing at the University of Bath has suddenly turned into trying to talk a woman down from jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.

The woman is naked, wearing high-heeled red designer shoes and has a mobile phone pressed to her ear. And she has the word 'slut' written on her stomach. Just as she jumps from the notorious suicide spot, she whispers to Joe: "You don't understand."

And then Joe gets an unexpected visitor the woman's teenage daughter Darcy, who claims her mother was afraid of heights and wouldn't have jumped. So Joe, aided and abetted by DI Veronica Cray and retired cop Vincent Ruiz, starts to question how and why Christine Wheeler died.

Michael Robotham has come up with the neat idea of having a loosely-linked series focussed on a number of characters. His previous book, THE NIGHT FERRY, featured DC Alisa Barba. This time out we welcome back Joe McLoughlin, who starred in the first book, SUSPECT.

The action moves to the west country of the UK. Joe and his wife Julianne have moved to Somerset. He's doing some lecturing; she's all over the world for her (rather vague) high-flying career. Robotham does a convincing job of balancing the mystery element with Joe's bumpy private life, not least the fact he suffers from Parkinson's Disease and this part of Joe seems horribly convincing.

One of Robotham's strengths is making you really believe his characters exist, although this time out his portrayal of a lesbian detective seems to have crawled out of Stereotypes 101. Elsewhere, though, he does a powerful job on Joe and his family, and on Ruiz, who's always a welcome presence in the books.

Robotham, who lives Down Under, has nailed the setting perfectly around Bristol, Bath and Somerset. But he has some occasional vocabulary glitches. Anyone in the UK wearing a muffler round their neck would wonder why they were sporting a car silencer!

SHATTER showcases some top-notch storytelling. It's always polished, assured and absolutely gripping. If you haven't come across Robotham's books, go and find the previous three (incidentally, LOST and THE DROWNING MAN are one and the same). You've got a treat to come.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, January 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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