Well, look at this! I promised you all this morning that I was going to start getting back into the blogging groove, and here we are with an actual book review already! :-D
The third book in Robotham’s Joseph O’Laughlin series was absolutely addicting. I had trouble putting this book down. It was terrifying in that way that really good thrillers can be. Robotham managed to create a story where the reader knows who the bad guy is pretty early on – and it only adds to the tension..
Overall, the premise of this book – that this murderer controls his victims through fear and manipulation and never actually physically sees or touches them – and yet they die – is so scary. It was brilliant. From the very beginning, when Joe watches a woman jump off a bridge, the fear ratchets up with every chapter. With snippets of narrative from the killer, we get glimpses into the why and how of what is happening. This isn’t a gory book at all. Robotham doesn’t need it to keep his readers glued to the pages.
The first-person-present-tense continues to nag (why, why, why), but I found myself liking Joe even more in this book. It was great fun to see Ruiz from the last book – now retired but just as Superintendent Battle-ish – and to see how character lives in general are progressing, because despite the excellent pacing of the book, there is still time for character development and background that really helps to fill out the book.
Speaking of which, I ended the book feeling quite frustrated with Joe’s life. Mild spoiler, but his wife decides that they should separate at the end, and part of her reasoning behind this is because Joe got involved with this case at all. But this made no sense to me. Literally, a woman died because no one cared to find out what was happening with her – that’s the whole point of the first death. Several people saw this woman on her way to jump off the bridge, and despite the fact that there were all these suspicious signs that something wasn’t right, no one cared.
But Joe cares, and it’s that caring that drives him to continue to assisting with the case. In the end, I felt like his wife didn’t appreciate or deserve him. Her attitude towards Joe really aggravated me, and he’s just so patient and resigned like, “Oh, she’s probably right, I’ve been rather self-centered lately worrying about the fact that I’m dying of Parkinson’s disease, so I suppose it’s perfectly reasonable that she wants to throw away our twenty years of marriage instead of trying to work through our problems, nbd.” Except he said all that with no sarcasm.
Still, in the end this was a solid 4/5 read and I’m intrigued to continue with the series. This book could be read as a stand alone, but I think that reading it in context of the preceding books helps to give it context.