Good Girl, Bad Girl, by Michael Robotham.
Word-of-mouth publicity isn’t always reliable, given peoples’ varied tastes, but I am so pleased I took my friend’s advice to read anything by Michael Robotham. What a treat! The above title had all the necessary requisites to keep me turning pages feverishly – and if I hadn’t had mundane but necessary ‘things to do’, I would have happily read the book in one sitting: there is no higher praise.
Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven is approached by a social worker acquaintance to assess Evie Cormac, an occupant of Langford Hall, a secure children’s home in Nottingham where Cyrus is based. Evie is not her real name, but one given to her by the authorities after she was found in a secret room in a house that was undergoing renovation. Also, a rotting corpse was discovered in an adjoining room after neighbours complained of the smell. Two dogs were also found, seemingly cared for and not starving, like Evie. No-one knows how old she is or what her real name may be, for Evie refuses to divulge anything about herself; it is all guesswork.
Now, six years have passed; she is dyslexic, surly, the bane of those in charge, and the terror of the other inmates: you mess with Evie at your peril She is also ferociously intelligent and has an uncanny gift: she knows when someone is lying. Just by looking at them. And she’s due to be released into a perilous future when the authorities decide she could be eighteen.
Meantime, the body of fifteen-year-old Jody Sheehan, British Junior Ice-skating champion has been found in a nearby wood, raped and murdered. Her family is in pieces, and Cyrus and his police colleagues are concentrating all their expertise on finding the killer: Evie’s eventual release into society is pushed down his ‘to-do’ list until the court makes her his foster-child, as an experiment. Could two people be more mismatched? For Cyrus has his secrets too, especially concerning the deaths of his family: he, more than anyone, would know all the emotions flooding Evie like a huge tide – but he doesn’t feel adequate for the job.
There are plenty of red herrings that sent me happily down all sorts of dead ends in this tightly-plotted, truly thrilling story, and the ‘whodunnit’ at the end was (for once!) a real surprise, but what really impressed me were the characters: even the minor players were credible and beautifully drawn, and Cyrus and Evie are so endearing that they deserve a sequel - especially Evie, cantankerous, violent, explosive, funny and loyal. We need to read about her again. SIX STARS