Intriguing twists and turns

2010-12-29 00:00

RAY Hegarty, a highly respected former detective, lies dead in his 14-year-old daughter Sienna’s bedroom. Could Sienna have killed him? She’s covered in blood and everything seems to point to her guilt.

Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin isn’t convinced. Joe knows Sienna well, for she’s the best friend of his own daughter, and he’s watched her grow up — and has recently become aware that something is troubling her. Against the advice of the police he launches his own investigation, a hunt that will lead him to a predatory school teacher and a conspiracy of silence, and will also bring him up against a race-hate trial currently captivating the nation.

The book reads well. Robotham is a skilful writer of considerable sensitivity and an abiding interest in, and understanding of, the human condition. I think, though, that it was a mistake to have as hero and detective a man, O’Loughlin, suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Certainly, his struggle with this often intractable, occasionally unpredictable and usually progressive condition wins our sympathy, and we are touched by the solitary existence it has more or less forced him to lead. But at the same time the condition itself tends to take centre stage — especially if the reader has more than a passing acquaintance with its symptoms. And that detracts from the flow and coherence of what is otherwise a solid detective story featuring a number of topical issues and with intriguing twists and turns.

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