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Michael Robotham is one of the best authors of psychological thrillers on the planet, and this is undoubtedly one of his best. Key elements in a good psychological thriller are to weave a chilling story and to leave you guessing to the very end - Robotham does that in spades.
Marnie Logan is having a terrible life. Her second husband Daniel disappeared a year ago and she is left to bring up 2 children, a young boy, Elijah, with developmental problems from celiac disease and a teenage girl, Zoe, from her first marriage. There has been absolutely no sign of Daniel, no bank account or credit card transactions and the police can find no trace of him - he has disappeared into thin air. Because she doesn't have proof of death she can't access his bank accounts or £300,000 life insurance.
Daniel was a gambling addict and left her with a large debt to a disreputable character, Patrick Henessy, with a contract making Marnie equally liable for the debt. Henessy won't write off the debt and her only recourse is to work for his escort agency to pay it off. When she refuses to service a client her handler Niall Quinn beats her up. What is particularly scary is that Quinn later turns up the next day in the local canal with his throat cut and the police question her because she was the last one known to have seen him alive.
Following her depression following Daniel's death she has been consulting her neighbour, psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. She doesn't tell him everything about her difficult childhood or that from time to time she feels that she is being watched.
At last Marnie finds a way to access Daniel's personal effects from his office and finds a red book that he was creating for her birthday with her life story told through her family, friends and acquaintances. Jo and his friend retired detective Vincent Ruiz help Marnie to follow the leads in the book, and the scary part is that some more people associated with Marnie also start to get hurt.
Robotham writes a chilling and disturbing story about Marnie's life, interleaved with observations from someone who has been following Marnie for years. Slowly he gives us clues and then reveals the answers but he leaves one of the questions unanswered even on the last page. Well done Michael Rowbotham, you have eclipsed all of your excellent previous psychological thrillers.
Now we wait for the release of LIFE OR DEATH in a few days time. Rowbotham says "It’s my tenth novel and one that I feel I was destined to write." Many of you may not be aware that while all of his novels are set in the United Kingdom, Michael Rowbotham is an Australian author who lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches.