Good Girl, Bad Girl
I was terribly disappointed to learn that Michael Robotham’s beloved Joe O’Loughlin series had come to an end last summer. There was something so special, so engaging about that character and the various twists and turns his life took both personally and professionally. It was a series I couldn’t imagine getting tired of reading, but of course, all good things must come to an end, and now, Mr. Robotham has turned his attention to Dr. Cyrus Haven, a criminal psychologist with a dark past, and Good Girl, Bad Girl introduces readers to this mercurial character and the young woman with the power to help him overcome the darkness he’s carried with him for nearly twenty years.
Six years before the story opens, police find a young girl hiding in a secret room in a house with links to a terrible crime. No one knows the identity of the girl, and she refuses to tell them anything about herself, including her name. When continued questioning does not get results, the girl is sent to live in a secure children’s home under the name Evie Cormac. Authorities hope intensive mental health treatment might help her feel confident enough to reveal her secrets.
When the novel begins, Dr. Cyrus Haven has been summoned to the home by a colleague. Evie is petitioning the court to allow her to live independently, but her treatment team is not in favor of this idea, and they’re hoping Cyrus will be able to help keep her in the home where she can continue to be looked after. Since no one knows Evie’s real age, her doctors have been working under the assumption that she is not a legal adult, but Evie is now claiming she is over the age of eighteen.
From the moment Cyrus first meets Evie, he knows there’s something special about her. Her doctors have told him about a certain skill Evie possesses, the ability to intuitively know when someone is lying to her, and Cyrus is eager to see this in action for himself. But Evie is playing a game of her own, a game that could land them both in unspeakable danger if Cyrus isn’t able to persuade her to trust him.
Meanwhile, a popular and gifted high school student is found murdered not far from her home. Jodie Sheehan has been training for years to become an Olympic ice skater, and authorities have lots of questions about her death. They enlist Cyrus’ help to solve the case, and he’s soon in the middle of a complicated investigation with ties to some of the most powerful people in the athletic industry.
Cyrus carries a lot of emotional baggage. He is the only member of his family to survive a brutal mass-murder, and he is obviously down by quite a bit of survivor’s guilt. He’s very good at his job, but he has managed to close himself off from most personal connections. He’s drawn to Evie in a way he can’t explain, but he also knows it would be beyond foolish for him to let down his guard around her. The relationship these two damaged people form is one of the best things about the novel, but it definitely does not happen quickly. Both Cyrus and Evie have a hard time trusting others, so it takes a lot for them to connect with one another.
Mr. Robotham definitely knows how to create a suspenseful plot that goes in directions I never expected. I guessed a few small things about what really happened to Jodie, but Evie’s storyline managed to surprise me again and again. There’s a fair amount of violence here, both on and off the page, but it never feels excessive. Instead, the author tells readers just enough to really engage their imaginations.
My one quibble with the book has to do with the lack of supporting characters. Both Evie and Cyrus do their best to keep the world at a bit of a distance, and as a result, the novel feels a little sparse. I would have liked to see at least a couple more people who had more than a cursory role in the story, as it would have added some additional perspective. As it is, the only people we get to know are the two main characters, and there were a few times I got the feeling that both of them lived in a vacuum of sorts.
Even so, Good Girl, Bad Girl is a solid start to what promises to be an engrossing new series. There’s so much more to learn about these people, and I’m confident in Mr. Robotham’s ability to create another blockbuster of a series.