A Book Review by Lori Carol Maloy
When She Was Good by Michael Robotham
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
When She Was Good is the 2nd book in the Cyrus Haven, four-book series. The first book is Good Girl, Bad Girl, published in 2019. (on my list) --the third in the series is Lying Beside You.
And why do I keep picking up the second book in the series when I reach for a thriller read?
This is a mystery. But we must forge ahead!
Cyrus Haven is a forensic psychologist who continues to struggle with his own childhood trauma, and sometimes becomes triggered during his investigations. His life intersected with Evie Cormac in book one and continues in book two.
Story opens with Evie at seventeen, living in a secure children’s home for troubled kids. She has a new identify she hopes will keep her safe and hidden.
Seven years earlier, London special constable, Sacha Hopewell found the abused and hungry child in a run-down house where she had been hiding in a secret room that was hidden behind a shelf-robe. Evie trusted Sacha enough to allow herself to be rescued.
But did Sacha betray her?
Evie feels connected to Cyrus because of their traumas and she wants to trust him. They both have PTSD. Evie is angry and rebellious (who can blame her) and she has built walls, not boundaries around herself—she is aware that the dangerous and powerful men from her past could find her if Cyrus doesn’t stop investigating her past.
Determined to know the whole story and punish those who are responsible, he keeps digging, and puts her new identify at risk.
No Spoilers. So read on.
This novel is a slow burn. Clues are dropped little by little as the plot unfolds but it is still very suspenseful. Evie is a vital witness and can incriminate many powerful people.
There are other interesting characters in the novel, but I won’t talk about them because they link to spoilers. Each makes the book even more interesting and add to the characterization of the main characters.
The story is told in first person present tense, shifting back and forth between Evie’s point-of-view and Cyrus’ point-of-view. Evie and Cyrus also have flashbacks and go from the present into their traumatic pasts as the plot unfolds.
This psychological thriller is also a mystery. It is character driven and a fascinating read as the reader delves into the trauma and the minds of these well-developed characters. Understanding Evie’s and Cyrus’s traumatic past also helps the reader understand why they act and make specific decisions, and therefore, motives and decisions, and desires make complete sense.
Issues with trauma and trust are well written and the characters quite believable.
There is some profanity, and because of the nature of Evie’s abuse, there should be a spoiler alert for people who have had childhood sexual abuse. These accounts are not graphically written but only implied and not detailed. And yet, with any psychological thriller, trauma is usually a key to plot and twists and these types of themes should be expected in this genre.
I read this well-written novel very quickly. Though I don’t care for books written in the present tense, I was able to easily forget this aspect as I became lost in the story.
Sacha shows up at Cyrus' door ready to talk, and he shares his meal of Butter Chicken, Mixed Vegetable Korma, Pilau Rice, Chapati, and Raita. I wanted to share these wonderful & tasty Indian recipes with you. Click the links to enjoy them.
Robotham was born in 1960. He is Australian and before he began publishing his own novels, he was a ghost writer. He is now a crime-thriller writer who has come into his own. He writes what he loves to read.
Now, that’s just smart.
He has also won the CWA Gold Dagger award for best novel. Twice he has been shortlisted for the Edgar Award for best novel.
Michael’s characters seem so real—they made me feel, and isn’t that what great writing is all about? This is why I read, and it is why I love to write.
I want to feel something.
So, yes! In doing this book review of When She Was Good, found that Michael Robotham can definitely write.
For Robotham’s amazing writing, his story, and his characterizations, I give this novel a knives-up.