Michael Robotham is much admired for his psychological crime thrillers featuring clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin, who battles Parkinsons disease while helping police investigate complex crimes. His debut novel, The Suspect, sold one million copies worldwide and nine more Joe O'Loughlin thrillers have followed.
In Good Girl Bad Girl, Robotham introduces two new characters, Evie Cormac, a damaged, self-destructive teenager, and forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, who is also haunted by his past. Six years earlier, Evie was found in a secret room in a house in north London, in which a man had been tortured to death. "Thought to be eleven or twelve, she weighed less than a child half that age. A mop-headed, wild eyed, feral looking creature, more animal than human, she could have been raised by wolves". She had lived with the corpse for two months, stealing food from nearby houses and sharing it with two dogs kennelled in the garden. The girl, called Angel Face by the nurses who cared for her, has never been identified. She became a ward of court and was given her name, Evie Cormac. Since then she has been in and out of foster care and is now living in Langford Hall, a secure children's home.
Cyrus Haven is asked by Adam Guthrie, a social worker, to assess Evie, because he believes she is "a truth wizard", she knows when people are lying. Evie wants to be declared an adult so that she can leave Langford, and Guthrie believes Cyrus can help assess her psychological profile.
Cyrus too has had a tragic childhood, returning home from football practice as a boy to find his mother, father and twin sisters murdered by his brother. His guilt of being the survivor has shaped his life ever since. However, as a hero, Cyrus is everything Joe is not. He's young, good looking, with a body toned by jogging and weigh-lifting. His relationship with the police stretches back to the night his family died and a young detective constable Lenny Parvel was first on the scene. She is now Chief Inspector Parvel.
When 15 year old Jodie Sheehan is found murdered in a wooded area near her home, Lenny ask Cyrus to help. Jodie, "a pretty church going-schoolgirl; a champion figure skater", was last seen at a community fireworks display. The contrast between Evie and Jodie could not be more marked. As Evie appears in court and the murder investigation proceeds, Robotham questions society's preconceived ideas of 'good' and 'bad', using both Evie's voice as well as Cyrus', to reveal motivations that would otherwise be hidden.
Good Girl Bad Girl is a vivid, dramatic exploration of love, loyalty and truth. There is obviously a sequel and a series to follow, but hopefully Joe O'Loughlin has not been abandoned.