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by Michael Robotham
Sphere, June 2010
432 pages
14.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847442188

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

If you've been keeping up with Michael Robotham's series, you'll know that he alternates his lead characters. In BLEED FOR ME, psychologist Joe O'Loughlin is in the spotlight, ably supported by Vince Ruiz, who used to be the oldest cop (now retired) in town.

Six books into the series, and Joe is still dealing with the fallout from his previous adventures. He's separated from wife Julianne, but lives in the same village so he can be near to the children. In shrink-speak, though, he definitely hasn't got closure, and is often to be found perched on the wall outside the marital home.

Joe, who is battling Parkinson's Disease, is doing odds and ends of lecturing at the University of Bath, and occasionally acting as a police consultant. Which is how he comes to be involved in the case of Sienna Hegarty.

The 14-year-old is friends with his daughter Charlie and turns up on the doorstep one night covered with blood and in shock. Her retired cop father Ray has been murdered and the blood covering Sienna is his. She can't remember what happened, but claims she isn't sorry he's dead.

Robotham portrays seemingly ordinary evil so very well. And because so much is played out in Joe's head, it makes it even scarier particularly given you're not quite sure how reliable a narrator he is at times. He must also deal with his internal and external battles with his illness, which he refers to as Mr Parkinson.

The slight snag with an author using the present tense which Robotham usually handles slickly is that it's tense (ho ho) as you suffer alongside Joe, but you're pretty confident he'll live to fight another day . . .

Robotham again demonstrates he can tell a story with the best of them, weaving in the mystery of Sienna, a sinister schoolteacher who is just a little too attentive to his charges, and a race hate court case.

One thing jarred, though. After a while, I took to playing 'spot the Brit howler', which took some of the gloss off what's another good yarn. There have been one or two glitches in earlier books, but this time out there seemed to be a host of them. Senior constable? Nope, that's an Aussie rank in the police. Closets? In Britain you come out of them, not keep items in them. Suspenders? Women of a certain generation use them to keep their stockings up; what men use to hold their trousers up are braces. Strollers? You mean pushchairs. Kent and Avon Canal? That'll be Kennet and Avon Canal. Someone signing to play soccer for Burnleigh? Nope, it's Burnley. And despite the endeavours of various generations of politicians, we have a free at the point of entry health service, so why would the assaulted taxi driver want his medical expenses paid?

I'm always surprised when writers living outside of the country they're writing about don't get someone from there to check through what they've written. Whoever edited the book needs a sharp rap across the knuckles for letting so many errors through. And before anyone asks, this was the finished version and not an ARC.

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, June 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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