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Shatter    by Michael Robotham order for
by Michael Robotham
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2009 (2008)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My favorite of Michael Robotham's characters is Professor Joe O'Loughlin, a psychologist who suffers from Parkinson's, a condition which he describes as his brain divorcing his mind. He returns in Shatter, after being a subject of police investigation in Suspect, and aiding Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz (the officer who arrested him) in Lost. They are now good friends and the retired Ruiz shows up to help O'Loughlin this time around.

Joe, his wife Julianne (a linguist and 'uber-career woman' who works for a company that handles acquisitions across Europe) and their two daughters - 'twelve going on twenty-one' Charlie and three-year-old Emma - have moved out of London to reduce Joe's stress and improve the family lifestyle. He keeps the home fires burning and lectures on behavioural psychology at the University of Bath - and just from the portion of his lecture in these pages, I'd love to take his course.

Joe's involvement in the case begins when he's called to the scene of an imminent suicide. A stark naked female in her early forties, speaking into a cellphone, turns to tell Joe 'You don't understand' before jumping to her death. Before that happens, the author introduces readers to an observer, who muses, 'There is a moment when all hope disappears, all pride is gone, all expectation, all faith, all desire. I own that moment ... That's when I hear the sound, the sound of a mind breaking.' The observer's chilling musings make clear there will be more fatalities.

After talking to Darcy, daughter of Christine Wheeler, the woman on the bridge, Joe insists to DI Veronica Cray that it was not suicide. With more deaths, they find a link to a soldier whose wife and daughter died overseas. Then, when the killer - a person of interest to the Ministry of Defence - puts Joe in his sights, he and Julianne learn exactly what Christine suffered and why she jumped to someone else's command. Shatter is a totally engrossing thriller that will leave you breathless - don't miss this one or any of this author's other brilliant works.

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