It’s a what-if that lingers.
Imagine if, after a long flight due to a family recall to be by my father’s bedside as he was passing on, I entered his hospital room to find that the woman holding his hand was not my dear mother. Imagine it was, surprisingly, a person I had never met. Now imagine if that was only the tip of the iceberg. Continue imagining that, in the weeks that follow after this shock, I discovered that my dad had a secret life about which I had not the slightest notion. If that then leads to a conclusion being arrived at that the reason he is lying in bed facing death may not have been accidental – well then, oh dear!
Of course, apart from the hurried trip back to Oz, this never occurred, but that is the premise of Sydney-sider Michael Robotham’s fascinating new publication, ‘The Other Wife’.
I am a late convert to this author, bought over by his previous tome, ‘The Secrets She Keeps’. Crime thrillers have never been my cup of tea until meeting Mr Robotham. His latest is his ninth featuring English psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. The significant feature of our hero is that, for the duration, Joe is battling ‘Mr Parkinson’ – a fact that has generated, for the writer, much kudos as a champion of research into a cure to this cruel disease.
Robotham isn’t an outstanding wordsmith, but his prose is competent enough to deliver us a narrative that keeps the pages turning over in a manner akin to watching a jolly good British police-procedural on the small screen. Now, if I were a younger man with more time on my side and less of a pile of must-reads on my shelves, I would avidly seek out the back-oeuvre of this fellow – he is most engaging.
This London-set work presents a sleuth who is typically conflicted. Joe is forced to reappraise his long held view of his often distant, preoccupied father. It seems the old fellow had a host of reasons for his mind being on weightier matters other than his son. It’s a son who is still grieving for a wife and coping with single parenthood. There is, though, a glimmer of a new romance beckoning. Could this be the last in the Joe O’Loughlin series? The writer has hinted as much. I hope not, even if I haven’t been around Joe’s creator for the whole journey. His situation was left hanging in the final chapter and I’d like to be a visitor to his world again in the future.
The author’s website = http://www.michaelrobotham.com/