When She Was Good by Michael Robotham was published on 28 July 2020 by Scribner.
It’s the second in his crime series about brilliant but damaged forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven and his equally brilliant and damaged protégé Evie Cormac.
If you’re a fan of crime thrillers and you’ve never read any of Robotham’s books, you’re in for a treat.
When She Was Good by Michael Robotham
Reviews For When She Was Good
This book was an international bestseller upon publication, which is not surprising, as When She Was Good is Robotham’s fifteenth novel.
He's won a slew of awards and has a legion of fans all over the world.
Here are some rave reviews:
‘Robotham delves into some very (very) dark territory, and the horror steadily mounts...Readers will be putty in this supremely talented author's capable hands. An urgent, poignant and terrifying thriller. More please. ’ (Kirkus Reviews)
‘Robotham doesn't just make me scared for his characters, he makes my heart ache for them.' (Crime author Linwood Barclay)
‘Twisty...fans of grim psychological suspense will be rewarded.’ (Publishers Weekly)
When She Was Good Synopsis
Six years ago, Evie Cormac was found hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a brutal murder.
But nobody has ever discovered her real name or where she came from, because everybody who tries ends up dead.
Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven believes the truth will set Evie free.
Ignoring her warnings, he begins to dig into her past, only to disturb a hornet's nest of corrupt and powerful people, who have been waiting to find Evie - the final witness to their crimes.
Michael Robotham's Writing Style
I’ve read a number of Robotham’s books from when he published his first one in 2004, and he is one author who keeps getting better and better.
The story takes place in current times and was published in July 2020, when the Covid-19 crisis was well under way.
However, he was quoted as saying he’d already finished the book by the time Covid had taken hold, and to include it as background in the book to bring it in line with real life would have meant a total re-write.
This is the dilemma now faced by all authors who want to write a book set in contemporary times.
Suspense From The First Page
In this book, Robotham achieves what I believe is the ultimate in crime thrillers – a compelling plot and captivating characters. Neither is sacrificed for the other.He draws you in right from the first page, the suspense unfolding at just the right pace.
The story is revealed bit by bit, keeping you on tenterhooks all the way through. Robotham’s writing style is so fluent and easy, it just sweeps you along.
His descriptions are eloquent but succinct, important for a crime novel so they don’t slow the pace of the story. Here are some examples –.
‘Fishermen, mostly, with hands as gnarled as knobs of ginger and eyes that squinted into brightness when there was no sun.’
‘Frown lines write bold headlines on Lenny’s forehead. It’s her tabloid face, full of shock and awe.’
Cyrus describing getting a tattoo:
‘My skin crawls. My skin screams. My skin bleeds. Each prick of the needle creates an odd sensation, a mixture of pleasure and pain…the needle is my escape and my salvation. The needle turns art into suffering and suffering into art and speaks to nobody except me.’
It’s the characters that elevate this book above other crime thrillers.
Both Cyrus and Evie are complex characters, superbly portrayed in such a way to create empathy in the reader.
The book is written from alternating points of view, so we get to live inside both their heads.
Cyrus is emotionally damaged from a childhood trauma ( I won’t say what, as that would be a spoiler) and has a few habits that are definitely OCD.
But he is brilliant and brave and determined to help Evie, with whom he has formed a strong, if volatile bond.
She is also suffering from the emotional after-effects of severe trauma and possesses a unique, uncanny gift – she can tell when people are lying, which is useful for Cyrus in his investigations.
Examples Of Michael's Dark Humour
She’s cynical, brave, vulnerable, stubborn and funny.
Her scathing humour provides light relief from the psychologically dark terrain of the story.
‘We’re giving back to the community,’ says Davina, who is chaperoning us for the day.
‘What did we take?’ I ask.
‘Nothing. We’re being nice to old people.’
‘And by nice, you mean?’
‘You should talk to them.’
‘Don’t be cruel.’
I wrinkle my nose. ‘What’s that smell?’
‘I can’t smell anything.’
‘Colostomy bags and pot pourri. Eau de grandma.’
About Author Michael Robotham
Two times Gold Dagger award winner, Michael Robotham began his writing career as an investigative journalist working across Britain, Australia and America.
Later he became a ghostwriter, collaborating on 15 'autobiographies' for politicians, pop stars, soldiers and adventurers.
Twelve of these books became Sunday Times bestsellers.
Robotham’s haunting psychological thrillers have been translated into 25 languages and his Joe O'Loughlin series is currently in development for TV by World Productions.
A six-part TV series based upon his standalone novel THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS was aired on BBC1 in 2020.
Two seems to be his lucky number. He has twice won the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger for GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL (2020), the first in the Cyrus Haven series, and LIFE OR DEATH (2015).
He has also twice been shortlisted for the Edgar Award for crime fiction in the US, twice won the Ned Kelly Award for Australia's Crime Novel of the Year, and twice been shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger.
Michael lives in Sydney with his wife and a diminishing number of dependent daughters.
Michael Robotham Interviews
Here’s a written question and answer interview with him about his creativity and writing process.
Michael Robotham On Youtube
In this YouTube interview, Robotham talks about his Joe O’Loughlin series, whose much loved main character is a psychologist with Parkinson’s disease.
When She Was Good Review Conclusion
I couldn’t fault this book.
It stays with you well after you’ve finished reading it and to my mind, there’s no higher praise.
Robotham says there will be more in the Cyrus Haven series and I for one, can’t wait for the next one.
When She Was Good
Other Books By Michael Robotham
Life Or Death
The Secrets She Keeps
Read more of Robin's thriller fiction reviews here. For more memoir, self-development and other book reviews, click here.