Review Blog

Sep 28 2020

When she was good by Michael Robotham

cover image

Cyrus Haven Bk 2. Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780733644849.
(Age: Senior secondary/adult) Cyrus and Evie narrate this disturbing story. They are very different characters, but both have suffered tragedies and each has different ways of keeping their memories from coming to the surface.
Cyrus Haven is a forensic psychologist who is trying to get to the truth of a girl called Evie Cormac, although that is not her true name. Evie is in a secure home protected by the court which prohibits anyone from revealing her identity, location or image.
Evie is damaged goods, feisty, intelligent; a survivor. She definitely does not want the truth to be told because she doesn't believe the truth will set you free, but may well kill you.
Cyrus and Evie have history. Cyrus was her foster carer but that was doomed to failure. A detective who secured the conviction of a paedophile has been delving into the case and its wider implications, but the questions he has been asking have led to his death, a rather nastily staged suicide. This has also stirred the interest in finding Evie. Cyrus wants to prevent this and believes if he finds the truth he will protect her.
Evie tells her story bit by bit, never revealing the whole truth, but chills the reader with her history, knowing it didn't happen to her alone. She is rescued by Terry the one person who is a friend, but who has been involved in her abuse. He hides her away, protects, shields and is true to her despite the most horrific torture. Weeks after Terry's death his body is found and eventually so is Evie who has remained in her hidden space.
Robotham weaves a tale that drags the reader along willingly no matter the sordid and disturbing nature of Evie's treatment. Both Cyrus and Evie are very flawed characters, but both are sympathetic. Cyrus has insights into the minds of others but is naive as to how the real world works, he still has trust in the 'system', he believes in justice. Evie on the other hand is naive about social niceties and nuances of conversation, but she is well aware that there is no such thing as justice. Evie can tell when people are lying, but to her there is no difference between good and bad lies. Lying about whether you enjoyed a meal and if you committed a murder are no different.
Michael Robotham tells a story where the rich and powerful are able to do what they like, where money and knowledge buys them immunity from prosecution and the anonymity to commit the foulest of crimes. He is also able to tell his story in a way which captures his readers and pulls them into each suspenseful page eager to read on.
Theme: Murder, Abuse, Crime, Power.
Mark Knight

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