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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Watching You by Michael Robotham

Mulholland Books, 432 pages, $26

It is hard to wait for the next installment in Michael Robotham’s entertaining series. London psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and retired DI Vincent Ruiz have gotten mixed up in a mess of a case, and I couldn’t be happier. When these former adversaries and current BFFs combine forces, it is the perfect melding of the qualities needed to make a supersleuth.

Marnie Logan is one of Joe’s patients. She suffers from anxiety, but not the easy form of it (spiders, heights). “Existential anxiety is more difficult because the reasons aren’t obvious and the magnitude confounds everything in their lives,” muses Joe. She is especially anxious because she has run out of money. With two kids to raise, it’s not the stuff with which to fashion an amusing cocktail party anecdote. Her husband, Daniel Hyland, disappeared about a year ago. But without going through nasty red tape, she cannot cash in his life insurance policy or access his bank accounts. She is stuck. And anxious.

Daniel did leave behind one legacy, however. He owes a loan shark a lot of money, money the loan shark wants Marnie to fork over on Daniel’s behalf. When she can’t, a minion forces her to become a prostitute. Could things get any worse? Well, yeah.

Joe calls in his good buddy, Vincent Ruiz, to help Marnie out of her difficulties with the shark. Then the minion is found dead. Also, poor Marnie, is she really poor Marnie? Could she have whacked her hubby, not realizing the full consequences of that action? After all, he was a bit of a scoundrel.

The more Joe and Vincent become involved, the weirder Marnie’s life appears.

It almost doesn’t matter what the plot is*; the trick is how an author chooses to tell a tale. Robotham tells his tale with humor, great pacing, and excellent character delineations. The plot of Watching You is bizarrely satisfying. It twists so much, it’s easy to be quite wrung out at the end. 

* I don’t really mean that.

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