Last year some friends and I tried to start a book club. It fell apart in stages as people realised they had different understandings of the concept – some wanted it to be primarily a social gathering, while the readers amongst us wanted to focus on the books (oddly enough).
Since I seem to be remarkably devoid of opinions lately – hence the huge gap between posts – I thought it might be a nice idea to post reviews of the books I’m currently reading. A kind of one-woman cyber book club if you will. Comments and suggestions are of course welcome.
I am a huge thriller junkie and always on the look out for new authors in this genre. My latest discovery is Michael Robotham. The Suspect is 470 pages of delicious suspense. I don’t want to give too much away, because a lot of the pleasure of this book hinges on the unexpected twists and turns, but the plot involves a psychologist accused of murdering a woman he once treated. The main character, Joseph O’Loughlin, is a likeable guy, made all the more so by his fallibility – he makes some stupendously bad choices as he goes along – and a lot of the suspense of the novel is caught up in the hope that the less likeable police detective, Ruiz, will realise he’s got the wrong man before it’s too late.
The author makes great use of pace in his writing to conjure up a sense of O’Loughlin being driven towards inevitable doom. And just as he allows the reader to relax and think that things are starting to work out for the best, the tale twists again and the heart is back in the throat.
I’m not sure what made him decide to give his main character Parkinson’s disease, but this little extra humanising touch is used to great effect to heighten both sympathy for O’Loughlin, and tension as he struggles under the physical strain of the chase.
This is a superbly put together book, and despite its length, feels like a quick read. I found myself entirely caught up in the lives of Joseph O’Loughlin and his family, friends and foes. It is only clear right at the very end who exactly falls into this final category, as there are a number of sketchy individuals who seem to have the capacity to do harm in the novel. Robotham’s characterizations are excellent and entirely plausible, and he shows good understanding of his main character’s field of expertise, which adds depth to the story.
Ultimately all the threads weave together to make for a very satisfactory ending, and all the reader’s initial questions are answered. I would certainly recommend The Suspect if you are like me and love a good thriller. And I am looking forward to reading more of Robotham’s work.
My copy of The Suspect was published by Sphere in 2010 as part of a Michael Robotham omnibus. It was originally published by Time Warner Books in 2004.