Pile by the Bed’s top 5 crime fiction novels for 2020 and 6 equally worthy honourable mentions. So overall a top 11 for the year.
Pile by the Bed reviews When She Was Good by Michael Robotham – the second Cyrus Haven thriller and direct sequel to Good Girl, Bad Girl.
Pile By the Bed lists the Top 5 crime fiction novels of 2019 and 5 more honourable mentions
Pile by the Bed reviews Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham – the start of a new series featuring psychologist Cyrus Haven
Michael Robotham admits in his Afterward that he never expected his Joe O’Loughlin series to go as long as it has. But the character continues to surprise and engage and in The Other Wife, Robotham gets to dig deep into O’Loughlin’s childhood and the experiences which shaped O’Loughlin as a character. Fresh off his stand alone thriller The Secrets She Keeps it is perhaps not a surprise that the latest O’Loughlin thriller could also be described as domestic noir, if categorization was your thing. It begins with O’Loughlin being told that his father is in hospital having fallen down the stairs of a London house. He is also told that his mother has given the hospital his number but when he arrives he finds not his mother but another woman who claims that she too has been married to Joe’s father for the past twenty years. From here the plot spins out into a range of family secrets and revelations which shake O’Loughlin’s image of his father and forces him to reconsider their relationship. At the same time he is dealing with the aftermath of his own wife’s death and the effect that has had not only on himself but…
In 2017, most of the top crime was Australian. Adrian McKinty took out the Ned Kelly Award for the sixth novel in his Sean Duffy series – Police at the Station and they Don’t Look Friendly. Candice Fox was shortlisted for the same award for Crimson Lake – the first book in her new series set in steamy far north Queensland. Michael Robotham’s The Secrets She Keeps was a stand-alone page turning thriller with two intriguing women at its centre. Mark Brandi’s debut novel Wimmera, a story of the impacts of child sexual abuse, not only on the victim but on all those around them, was a revelation. And Attica Locke went to rural Texas and revealed the deep seated vein of institutionalised racism in the United states in Bluebird Bluebird Honourable mentions: Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher Too Easy by JM Green Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyer Corpselight by Angela Slatter
Michael Robotham’s crime thrillers stand out from the crowd for a number of reasons. One of these is the psychological depth that he often gives to his “bad guys”. They may do the wrong thing, they may do evil things, but as a reader we can understand at least some of their drivers and motivations. But they are still for the most part, secondary characters. In The Secrets She Keeps, both the criminal and victim are front and centre and the focus is squarely on their motivations and actions. It is the police and investigators that are kept in the background. The Secrets She Keeps alternates its narrative between Agatha and Meghan. At the start of the book both are eight weeks pregnant and both have secrets, damaging secrets, that they are keeping from their families and from the world. Agatha, who opens the book, works in the local supermarket and clearly is having a tough time. You initially have some sympathy for her as she watches successful Meghan and her mothers’ group but the creepiness factor comes in early when it turns out that she is doing more than causally watching Meghan. Meghan, on the other hand, seems to…