When She was Good is the direct sequel to Michael Robotham’s last book Good Girl, Bad Girl. While it is possible to read this as a standalone, it is highly recommended that readers start with the first book. Not only because it provides necessary context and information but it is also a great book and worth reading in its own right. With some of the table setting out of the way, When She Was Good is in some ways even better. For those who haven’t read Good Girl, Bad Girl, there may be spoilers ahead.
When the book opens, psychologist Cyrus Haven is still doing the one thing that his one time ward Evie Cormac has asked him not to do and that is investigate her past. He has tracked down Sacha, the policewoman who found Evie, then called Angel Eyes, who has gone into seclusion herself. He does not have much time to spend with Sacha before he is called the to the scene of the apparent suicide of a former detective. It is clear very quickly that the death is not suicide and what is more that the detective was looking into the closed case of a paedophile, an investigation which, from his notes, somehow involves Evie. In the meantime Evie is having troubles of her own, troubles that encourage her to recall her life and the circumstances that brought her to where she is.
While the previous book had an unrelated case that brought Cyrus and Evie together, When She Was Good is much more focussed. Cyrus’s investigation of the detective’s death and the story of what happened to Evie are closely connected. And the danger that comes with that digging, danger that Cyrus is continually warned of but ignores. not only puts Cyrus in danger but endangers Evie aswell.
When She Was Good is a dark tale centred around two damaged characters and has at its core blackmail, dark deeds and a form of high level, institutionalised child sexual abuse. But Robotham manages all of this darkness in a way that never feels exploitative. Once again, the story is only told through the alternating perspectives of Cyrus and Evie. So that those perpetrating the crimes are only seen through the point of view of the main characters and the people they speak to.
When Robotham introduced Cyrus Haven it felt like he may be just moving on to a younger version of his previous hero psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. But When She Was Good is another cracker from Robotham that not only more fully establishes Haven as a very different character but the nature of the series as being something very different. And while there is some resolution provided, the relationship between Cyrus and Evie still has plenty of room for discovery, and it feels like there are still plenty of loose ends to be examined in future instalments.