Book info

Suspect (2005)

Suspect (2005)
Rating
3.84 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0307275477 (ISBN13: 9780307275479)
languge
English
publisher
vintage
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Suspect (2005)
Suspect (2005)

About book: Having read Michael Robotham’s Joe ‘O’Loughlin books our of order (I literally read Say You’re Sorry, the latest, first – and loved it – see earlier review), I found I didn’t enjoy this first in the series as much as I feel I probably should.Don’t get me wrong – this is a tautly written, gripping thriller that takes you on a roller-coaster ride as we’re introduced to the recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin. Dealing with this advancing neurological disease and the fact it will steal precious time with his beloved family is bad enough, but when Joe discovers that a woman who once accused him of sexual assault has been murdered, and all the clues as to her killer lead to him, time works against him in different ways. Convinced the killer is one of his patients, no-one will listen to Joe and, as the body count increases, even those who know and love him start to regard him differently, particularly when Joe is caught in the biggest lie a married man can tell. Not only do we meet Joe’s wife, Julieanne, and young, adorable daughter Charlie, this is also the book that introduces Vincent Ruiz – hardbitten detective who would be quite at home in a Raymond Chandler noir as he is between the pages of this book.This is a real cat and mouse book – one where the roles sometimes change. While I can acknowledge the writing is superlative and the plotting excellent, I think it’s also testimony to Robotham (and possibly unfair of me) that the main reason I didn’t like the story as much is because, to me, Joe acted in a manner I considered out of character and which didn’t ring true. If I’d read the books in order, however, I presumably wouldn’t feel that way because I wouldn’t “know” Joe or be as invested in him as I’ve become. To me, this intelligent, deeply thinking man (always thinking, as Ruiz observes in a later book, which I’ve just finished and will shortly review as well), behaves in a way that jars – whether it’s how he responds to his diagnosis or the fact he continues to withhold information from the police, I’m not entirely sure. I found this enormously frustrating and even if I didn’t “know” Joe, I would have thought someone with his perceptive qualities and understanding of humans, should know not to keep the sort of information he does hidden as it will only cast more suspicion in him – which it does with devastating results. Likewise, Ruiz is such an arse. Hostile from the outset, he really is incredibly unlovable and difficult to reconcile with the person he later becomes. I didn’t struggle with him as much as Joe, however, and enjoyed discovering the early stages of their relationship which, in many ways, functions as bromance – boy meets boy, boy hates boy, boy loves boy. These are very picky complaints and, as I’ve noted, only arise because I read the books front to back (so to speak). Overall, it’s such a tremendous read and again, kept me awake far too late and is, I suspect (pun intentded) responsible for the shadows under my eyes.

Suspect is one of those books that you have to invest yourself in to get any payback. The book is broken into three smaller books, each with a specific objective. In book one, Robotham gives us the background on his protagonist Joe O'Loughlin, a psychologist that has many character flaws. His wit is adorable, his determination to help his patients laudable, but his inability to talk with his wife (which is her biggest need), his inability to say what needs to be said because he overanalyzes his words impact, and his unwillingness to share facts that are important to those around him make him difficult to fully embrace. Then you learn of his Parkinson's disease, and you like him. Then you find out he cheated on his wife and you don't. It goes back and forth like this for most of book one. Then the plot focuses on the murder of an unidentified woman and the police ask Joe if he can examine the body and tell them things about her that only a psychologist would see. When Joe discovers he knew the victim, a former patient who tried to drag him through the mud because he declined her sexual advances, the police begin to investigate Joe. When Joe begins to suspect that the murderer is one of his patients, he doesn't know how to communicate his concerns with the police. So at the end of book one, the police arrest Joe for the murder. This is the slow part of the book and takes over 150 pages. If you make it through that the remaining two books will blow you away. Book two focuses on Joe as the murder suspect, his subsequent release but continued surveillance, and his investigation of the patient he thinks may be responsible for the murder. As you devour book two you learn more about the patients psychotic history and you watch as the police collect more evidence that points to Joe as the murderer. When Joe's discovers his alibi for the initial murder, the women he slept with to cheat on his wife, murdered in her own flat, Joe realizes he is being set-up and makes a mad dash for freedom. Book three enters into the realm of "I can't put this book down until I finish it" territory. As Joe digs deeper into his suspects/patients life he finds a series of other unsettling crimes that makes him sure his patient is the culprit. However, as the police close in to arrest Joe for two murders, he must stay on the run until he solves the case. A great plot twist at the end just adds to the suspense. Since this is the first in a series, I can understand why book one took so long. In the end it doesn't matter. Put this book on your must read list.
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Reviews
William Smith
First time user/poster. I've liked all of Michael Robotham's novels. I have found that there are mystery/thriller writers who are imaginative and articulate. These writers generally avoid all of the standard roles that populate so many books of this genre. On the "Literate" side of this genre I have liked most of the works of the following: James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Linda LaPlante, Robert Harris, David Ellis, Michael Robotham, Dennis Lehane, the late Elmore Leonard and more that my febrile mind is unable to recall. I find another category of writers in this genre who I used to admire but whose work has, in my opinion, become formulaic. Foremost is Tom Clancy whose "Hunt For Red October" hit all the right notes. It included suspense, a great eye for detail, a plot that surprised, and interesting characters. Patricia Cornwall (Cornwell?)has fallen into this niche as has Nelson DeMille Unfortunately, Lee Child has gone to far in this direction. Then there are the writers who, again in my own humble opinion, just do not write well. They have caricatures instead of characters, predictable plots, unlikely protagonists and other characters whose names frequently make me wince. The name Stone Barrington comes to mind. No matter how dire of a situation the protagonist finds him/herself, they will survive-shackled, guarded by 4 mobsters (very large Russians are usually included in the guards), and stuck in a warehouse that's about to catch on fire; they escape, kill/disable the guards, and track down the evil genius behind everything. I have always considered the writers James Patterson, Robin _____? (protagonist- and writer-)is surgeon, John Lescroart (recent novels) and Robert B. Parker are all writers whose books I've read and felt like I had completely wasted my time in reading.Please pardon any grammatical, spelling, or poor writing on my own part as I have just joined Goodreads and am composing this while standing in front of a public library terminal. Also pardon any offense I may have cause through my pontificating. These are solely my opinions and no respectable periodical has called to ask if I would be their literary critic.Given my obviously strong opinions stated above, I'd truly appreciate any suggestions from anyone whose tastes are similar.
Steve
I was a little shocked by this book. Firstly, the disease that the main character has is rather confronting all by itself, and then you get the storyline picking up with talk of murder. It builds up in a direction, and you think you understand how it is going to go, and then author pulls the rug out from under you, and you feel dazed and confused. It built up slowly, with many twists, turns and back-flips to a very delicious climax, and a mostly satisfying resolution. My only niggle would be that the chapters are too short, but I am looking forward to reading more by this author.
David Chittenden
For the first few chapters, I found it very hard to get into this book. As a professional counsellor, I tend to be extremely critical of how counsellors and psychologists are portrayed in fiction. Once it became apparent that the psychologist had all the flaws and foibles of a real person, and the knowledge of a psychologist, I was completely drawn into the story.Even the psychologist's reactions to his Parkensen's disease onset was completely realistic, as was his panicked reaction when he found the dead prostitute in her house and learned he had been set up.
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