Title: Say You're Sorry
Author: Michael Robotham
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Read: July 28 - 29, 2013
TWO MISSING GIRLS. TWO BRUTAL MURDERS. ALL CONNECTED TO ONE FARM HOUSE. WHO IS TO BLAME?
When pretty and popular teenagers Piper Hadley and Tash McBain disappear one Sunday morning, the investigation captivates a nation but the girls are never found.
Three years later, during the worst blizzard in a century, a husband and wife are brutally killed in the farmhouse where Tash McBain once lived. A suspect is in custody, a troubled young man who can hear voices and claims that he saw a girl that night being chased by a snowman.
Convinced that Piper or Tash might still be alive, clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin and ex-cop Vincent Ruiz, persuade the police to re-open the investigation. But they are racing against time to save the girls from someone with an evil, calculating and twisted mind...
England is blanketed by a layer of snow from a recent blizzard, whilst Joseph O’Loughlin, the Parkinson’s inflicted psychologist we got to know in Robotham’s earlier novels, is looking forward to spending a few days with his teenage daughter Charlie in Oxford. His plans are rudely interrupted, however, when he is asked by local police to assist with the investigation into the brutal slaying of a middle-aged couple in a nearby farmhouse overnight. Joe quickly makes the connection between the murder and a crime-scene Charlie spotted from the window of their train on the trip to Oxford, that of a young girl found frozen in the thick ice of a nearby lake. Bur who is the girl and what is her connection to the murdered couple? When Joe digs deeper, he discovers that the daughter of the farmhouse’s previous tenants was abducted several years earlier together with a friend from school, never to be seen again. Sensing a connection between the “Bingham girls” and some clues found at the crime scene, Joe must try to convince police to re-open the investigation into the girls’ abduction. And if the dead girl was indeed on of the Bingham girls, is there a chance that her friend could still be alive?
With Say You’re Sorry, Robotham has once again delivered a well-plotted suspenseful murder-mystery in the style which has firmly cemented him on my list of favourite crime writers. From Robotham’s first O’Loughlin novel Suspect I have been intrigued by psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin, a family man who not only has to fight against the obstacles brought upon him by the cruel disease Parkinson’s, but who also brings a unique new perspective into the police investigations he is involved in. Following a growing trend of crime writers using protagonists from professions outside the police force to solve murder cases, Robotham uses his knowledge of psychology to pepper his novels with unique insights into the human psyche, which allow his character O’Loughlin to make headway in investigations where police efforts have failed. Although sometimes there is a danger of stereotyping human behaviour, I really enjoy O’Loughlin’s characterisations of both the victims and the perpetrators in this case.
Part of the story of Say You’re Sorry is being told in the first person by Piper, one of the Bingham girls, an ordinary everyday teenage girl who has fallen victim to the twisted mind of a sadistical child abductor and murderer.
My name is Piper Hadley and I went missing three years ago on the last Saturday of the summer holidays. Today I came home.
The topic of abduction and keeping young girls prisoner for years in dank basements seems to have grown in popularity amongst crime writers and their audiences, undoubtedly fuelled by real-life events covered in the news in recent years. It is hard not to be deeply affected by events like the Natascha Kampusch imprisonment, for example, especially the fact that an unspeakable crime against human rights can happen right under our noses without anyone suspecting anything (or acting on their suspicions). Robotham not only delves into the dynamics of the crime and the mind of the perpetrator, but also its effects on the victims’ families, friends and communities.
There are enough red herrings amongst the investigations’ clues to throw the reader off track, and I admit that the ending of the novel came as a complete surprise to me. And although the subject matter is as dark and chilly as Robotham’s atmospheric description of the English winter, the author spares the reader some of the more unnecessarily gruesome and graphic scenes found in other novels with similar themes.
As with Robotham’s previous books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed Say You’re Sorry and highly recommend it to all lovers of contemporary crime fiction – especially those looking for a different kind of protagonist. Robotham’s attention to detail and his well-plotted storylines where nothing is left to chance or coincidence make him one of the top English crime writers of our time. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next instalment in the Joseph O’Loughlin series!