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Say You're SorryReview - Say You're Sorry
by Michael Robotham
Hachette Audio, 2012
Review by Christian Perring
Jan 29th 2013 (Volume 17, Issue 5)

This is the most recent novel in the crime series featuring forensic psychologist Joe O' Loughlin and ex-detective Vincent Ruiz.  It starts out with a diary of Piper, a girl who went missing with her friend Tash several years ago.  With each entry as the book goes along, we learn more about the kidnapping of the two young teenagers.  Piper has a lot of attitude and humor, which makes her an endearing character and increases our concern for her plight as we realize that she is still being held against her will.   Then we get O' Loughlin's perspective when he is brought in on another case, now that most of the general public have forgotten about the girls.  Apparently closer to divorce, but still not there yet, he has moved to London and is working in private practice.  His Parkinson's disease has not got much worse, and is mostly under control, but still causes him major problems.  At the start of this story, he is on a trip to Oxford with his own teenage daughter, when he gets called in by the local police to advise on a terrible double murder that happened in a remote farmhouse.  A local young man is the main suspect because he is mentally troubled, and the police just assume that it must be him. O' Loughlin interviews the youth and doubts that he had the motivation to carry out the vicious murder.  He does not want to get involved in a police case, but when the body of a teenage girl turns up, and he guesses that it is one of the girls who went missing several years ago, while the police were totally surprised by this, so they conclude he has special skills.  He gets dragged in against his will.  As with previous cases, he has brilliant insights into people's twisted motivations.  Yet it turns out that he is also fallible, and although he is the only one who can possibly solve the complicated murder mystery, his mistakes are costly. 

Robotham's story has many characters and many twists and turns.  It is a dark and gripping story, and O' Loughlin is an appealing narrator precisely because of the combination of his flaws and his grim determination.  He is a modern noir hero.  The weakness of the book is that while the main character is a forensic psychologist, the plot is massively implausible from a psychological perspective, and the book at times resembles a horror movie more than a piece of psychological fiction.  While the novel raises many interesting themes, it deals with them superficially and often problematically.  Nevertheless, the book  stands out for its ambition, even with its limited success.

Sean Barrett performs the unabridged audiobook; he manages to give O' Loughlin a believable personality, and does a good job with making the diary entries of the teenage girl credible. 

 

© 2013 Christian Perring        

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


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