Australian crime author Michael Robotham has already won a CWA Gold Dagger (his second) for the first book in his Cyrus Haven series Good Girl, Bad Girl. This was followed up with a sequel, When She Was Good, that was, if anything, better for not having to establish the central relationships from scratch. And now comes the third in the series Lying Beside You which continues the high quality, engaging, page turning nature of this series.
The cautious partnership between forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormack is about to be tested. Elias, Cyrus’s brother and the killer of his family, is seeking release from the psychiatric facility in which he has been held since he was a teenager. And the only person he can turn to is Cyrus. Meanwhile Evie is facing her own challenges in trying to fit in to society – finishing school and getting a job. Thrown into this mix is the case of a missing woman whose elderly father has been beaten to death and a prisoner on parole who Cyrus is trying to help particularly after Evie, who can always tell when someone is lying, confirms that the man is innocent.
These are just the multiple starting points in another effortless crime thriller from Robotham that also manages to throw in a nascent romance, a second missing woman, and possible police corruption. Yes, there are probably one or two too many coincidences needed to keep Cyrus and Evie in the picture and make the plot really tick but readers are too likely to be turning the pages to care.
Central, once again, are the two points of view of Cyrus and Evie. Robotham has created a pair of damaged but relatable main characters with a complex relationship of their own that has developed in interesting ways over the series. A good part of the drama in these books comes from the mistakes both make in trying to understand and accommodate the needs and perspectives of the other. And much of the pathos comes from the two of them striving to overcome that barrier and be better for each other.
Lying Beside You is another finely crafted and engaging piece of crime writing. Robotham’s Joe O’Loughlin series was great, and had some truly stand out entries. The Cyrus Haven series, building on Robotham’s mastery is, so far, even better.