Friday 17 April 2020

Unexpected post on a Friday morning...

It’s Friday morning, a bit overcast and rather chilly, with snow and rain expected in the forecast for this afternoon, so I want to get outside for a long walk before that starts.  But as I sip my cup of steeped loose-leaf tea, I thought that this would be a perfect time to write this week’s post, as I just finished both a novel and an audiobook yesterday.

Good Girl, Bad Girl is the first in a new series by one of my favourite authors of psychological suspense, Michael Robotham, and introduces Cyrus Haven, a psychologist with a complicated and troubling past who wants to “save the world”.  It is a book that I had on my shelf, purchased with a Chapters gift card some time ago. Since we can’t go to the library, I’m forced to read books I have on my own shelves, which is great - perhaps my next book will also be one I purchased on that same book-buying excursion.  Anyway, Good Girl, Bad Girl tells the story of two different cases, one active and one a cold case.  Jodie Sheehan was a sixteen-year-old girl who was on the way to becoming an Olympic figure skater when she was cut down in the prime of her life while walking home from a fireworks event.  Evie Cormac is a girl of indeterminate age who has been living at Langford Hall, a secure youth facility, for the past year, after numerous foster attempts proved unsuccessful. She is the girl the media dubbed “Angel Face” after being discovered living in a secret room six years earlier.  Cyrus Haven is a psychologist whose disturbing past has led him naturally to this line of work. He is called in by Guthrie, one of the social workers at Langford, to help evaluate Evie and determine if she is a “truth wizard”, someone who has the gift (or curse) of being able to detect when someone is lying, and also to determine whether she should be allowed to live on her own, as she claims to be eighteen.  No one knows her real age, as there are no birth records and no one claimed her when she was discovered. She refuses to talk about her past, and Guthrie is hoping Cyrus can form a connection with her because of his own past experiences. Cyrus is also a personal friend of Lenore “Lenny” Parvel, the Chief Investigating Officer in charge of the Jodie Sheehan death, and she calls on Cyrus to help with the case. Jodie seemed like the perfect girl, with great family relations, a future as a professional figure skater, and strong friendships.  But all is not what it seems, and the further they dig into her life, the more secrets they uncover. One girl seems perfect, one girl seems broken… Can Cyrus save the one and help find justice for the other? I have always enjoyed reading Robotham’s books, and have some favourites, but over the years, I’ve found myself disappointed in a few, particularly his last couple of books. This one was just OK in my opinion.  It was complex and well-written, but Cyrus is really just a younger version of Robotham’s first psychologist star, Joseph O’Loughlin, albeit with a different past and marital status. I guess what I want to say is that I didn’t love it, and that if I were recommending Robotham to a first-time reader, I would not recommend this one, although if someone had no past reading experience with this author, then they would have nothing to compare it to and might actually enjoy it more than I did.  It was well-reviewed, so please don’t let this post deter you from reading it if you want to try him out - it appears that there is now a second book available featuring Cyrus and Evie, When She Was Good, which I plan to read when I can get a copy from the library.

And I finished listening to The Missing by C L Taylor, another book that I thought was just OK.  It is told from the point of view of Claire Wilkinson, a mother who refuses to believe that her fifteen-year-old son is dead, despite the fact that he’s been missing for six months.  The police have had no new leads, but she insists on passing out flyers and checking out squats and train stations in the off-chance that Billy is dossing there. This disappearance has nearly torn the family apart:  father Mark seem to be alright, but there is tension around his relationships with Claire and his older son Jake; Jake can’t seem to stay focused on his apprenticeship and is in danger of losing his job. He is also having troubles in his relationship with his girlfriend Kiera, who has been living with the Wilkinsons for the past eighteen months, since her father died and her mother’s abusive behaviour drove her to find a safe haven with Jake's family.  This is a troubling enough scenario, but when Claire’s continued efforts uncover secret after secret, what she thought was the truth becomes muddier and muddier, and she feels that she alone must untangle the knotted threads that have become her reality. I wasn’t really that taken with this audiobook, but when I needed to listen to a new one, this was the best I had readily available. Once I had downloaded more books and had other choices, I was already halfway through this one and decided to stick with it, as it was fairly short (but seemed long!).  This was the author’s first book, so I guess it was pretty good. Perhaps reading it in print would have been better, but I didn’t know that at the time. I’m glad to have got to the surprise ending to find out what really happened, but I’m also glad that I’ve reached the end and can now move on to a new audiobook.  

That’s all for today.  Get outside while you can, but remember to stay at least six feet from others!

Bye for now…

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