8 June 2008

SHATTER, Michael Robotham

Sphere, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84744-178-2. 466 pages

Why would a woman leave her house naked, except for a raincoat and red high heeled shoes, walk for 2 hours, take off the raincoat, climb, in drenching rain, over the safety rail on the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and then jump?

Professor Joe O'Loughlin is already asking himself these questions when the woman's 16 year old daughter turns up at his house seeking help.

At the time Christine Wheeler jumped, Joe was a matter of inches from her, trying to persuade her not to, but he was no match for the voice on the mobile phone that she was weeping into.

Joe and his family have left London and moved to the West Country, to provide a better environment for their two daughters, Charlie and Emma. But if anything things have got worse. Joe, in the first stages of Parkinson's, isn't really coping too well with his wife's almost constant absences through work, and they have advertised for a nanny. Joe has taken a part-time job lecturing in behavioural psychology at the University of Bath.

Joe's involvement in investigating a probable suicide isn't really what he needs to do. But when a second apparent suicide involves Christine Wheeler's business partner, there is no turning back.

SHATTER IS Michael Robotham's 4th novel. We first met Joe O'Loughlin in SUSPECT, where he was the main character, the subject of an investigation by Detective Vincent Ruiz. In SHATTER Ruiz is retired from the police force and Joe turns to him for help in working out what made Christine Wheeler jump.

SHATTER explores what it takes to break the human spirit, whether when you know what is actually happening, you can still stay strong. In it Joe O'Loughlin, he who specialises in mending minds, faces an enormous personal test. There's a striking bit at the front of the book, that is echoed later on.

There is a moment when all hope disappears, all pride is gone, all expectation, all faith, all desire. I own that moment. It belongs to me. That's when I hear the sound.

The sound of a mind breaking.

It's not a loud crack like when bones shatter or a spine fractures of a skull collapses. And it's not something soft and wet like a heart breaking. It's a sound that makes you wonder how much pain a person can endure; a sound that shatters memories and lets the past leak into the present; a sound so high that only the hounds of hell can hear it.

Can you hear it? Someone is curled up in a tiny ball crying softly into an endless night.

Joe O'Loughlin and Vincent Ruiz make a great team. I also enjoyed meeting DI Ronnie Cray, a bluff no-nonsense female detective. She reminded me a bit of Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope.

I have already listed Michael Robotham as one of my favourite authors and this book I think is probably his best. I expect to see it win many awards or at least be short listed for them. SHATTER has been shortlisted for the 2008 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

Michael's website at http://www.michaelrobotham.com/aus/shatter.htm includes an excerpt from SHATTER.

My rating: 5.0

If you haven't read the other 3 novels in this "series" then I recommend that you do. However I think SHATTER stands alone quite nicely.


Sarah said...

Once I've finished reading Peter Temple, I think the next Australian crime fiction writer I focus on will be Michael Robotham. This sounds like an interesting read.

Teddyree said...

Great review, isn't that disgraceful I didnt even realise he's Australian.

Kerrie said...

Now you'll have to find his other books Teddyree


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