Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bleed For Me - Michael Robotham

Ray Hegarty lies dead in his daughter Sienna's bedroom. Sienna is found covered in his blood, but although she denies any wrongdoing, all the evidence is stacked against her. Professor Joe O'Loughlin is a psychologist who is given the task of writing a psychological report of Sienna, but as his daughter Charlie is Sienna's best friend, there are worries that his personal involvement is clouding his judgement. However, he's the only person who believes Sienna is innocent, so can he help her? Or is he barking up the wrong tree?

This is a gripping, exciting story which combines abuse, lies, secrecy, racism and corruption, which will keep your attention til the very end.

This was the first book I'd read by Michael Robotham (in fact, it was the first time I'd heard of him!) and I have been thoroughly impressed. Robotham is obviously a very talented writer, who is able to put together a detailed plot which maintains its momentum throughout.

There are quite a few characters in the book, but they are all very clearly described and well-developed. The story is written in the first person, through the eyes of Professor Joe O'Loughlin. He is very likeable and believable, and he seems like a very caring bloke. Nevertheless, I did find him a little hard to visualise, as he seemed relatively young yet he had Parkinson's and sometimes had a mindset which seemed older than his years. I'm not saying young people don't get Parkinson's, as I know that sadly they can, but I just thought some aspects of Joe's character were juxtapositioned with some others.

Furthermore, Joe is a professor of psychology, who likes spending as much time as possible with his daughters. That's it, not a former police officer, not a regular crime fighter, just a professor of psychology. He may have friends and acquaintances in the police force, but how he managed to get so involved in a criminal investigation is beyond me. I'm sure that in real life he wouldn't be able to have so much contact with the chief suspect, and he somehow always managed to go places and find out information which I don't think he should have been allowed. Some may call it artistic licence on Robotham's part - I call it stretching reality.

On to other matters... There are several sub-stories to this plot and all are interlinked - the fun comes in by trying to figure out how. I often find that sub-plots within crime novels can either seem unnecessary, or very complicated and confusing. Luckily, this was not the case in 'Bleed For Me'! It'll make your brain work as you try to figure out how everything's linked, but it won't be in a bad way like you're trying to figure out what's going on.

Above I mentioned some of the themes contained in the book, and there's no doubt about it that they're very mature themes. I will warn you that the abuse I mentioned is child abuse, but it has all been handled very sensitively. There are no graphic descriptions, and nothing is really described in any great detail, so it shouldn't be offensive or upsetting to most people. I think it must have been difficult for Robotham to tackle so many hard-hitting themes in one book, but he has managed well. I would even go as far as saying a teenager could read this book: of course, it depends on the maturity of the specific child, but as long as they are mature enough understand what these themes are about and that they're totally wrong, they shouldn't find this book shocking or offensive at all.

Having said that, I do remember one sad bit...but I am quite a softie! I found it quite upsetting and nearly cried, but it's just part of my personality that I hate reading and watching things like that as they really upset me (I'm trying not to give too much away, but if you're worried about what it might be and want more details please send me a message and I'll spill the beans!). However, if any of you are real tough nuts you'll probably just think I'm being daft...the rest of the book really is quite sensitively handled!

Along a similar vein, Robotham's writing style is very easy to read, and you won't find yourself struggling with any technical or detailed language. The Professor's a psychologist, there's a police investigation going on, and parts are set in the middle of a court room, but there is very little specific jargon relating to any of these which could fly straight over the heads of the uninformed. I have virtually no real-life knowledge of any of these professions or processes, but I still followed the story easily and could clearly understand what was happening...quite a feat of achievement!

In fact, Robotham has a very easy to read style. In this book he has created tension, happiness, sadness, anger, curiosity and much, much more. The story is very gripping and draws you in from the start - and it'll keep you interested right til the end. In addition, what I like about Robotham's style is his sharp wit. This isn't a laugh out loud, funny book, but every so often he just puts in a little one-liner or quip which had me giggle and smile to myself. It's a superb way of lightening up what could otherwise be quite a tense book, and is a very personal, original way of doing so.

Lastly, the chapters are mostly quite short, and if not at least they're separated into shorter passages. Not exactly James Patterson short, but short enough that if you need to stop reading (although why would you want to?!) you should be able to do so within a couple of pages.

Overall, this is a really good book which has done British crime writers great credit. This book was only published at the end of last year, so hasn't been out all that long, but I really hope it becomes more popular and that Michael Robotham makes a bigger name for himself, as he really deserves it. 'Bleed For Me' isn't perfect, but it makes for great reading and will keep you glued to your seat. Enjoy!

A paperback copy of 'Bleed For Me' can currently be bought for £3.98 from Amazon or The Book People, and a Kindle copy will set you back £3.99.

Summary: An excellent read which deserves recognition!
Rating: 5/5

1 comment:

  1. Another awesome review, as per usual.

    Sometimes with first person, I think the author slips a bit of himself/herself into the character, which makes for the weird juxtapositions you mentioned in O'Loughlin's character.

    It sounds pretty good, so maybe I'll have to dig out that giftcard I have lying around and make my way over to a bookstore. (;


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