One of Michael Robotham’s very popular standalone books The Secrets She Keeps, examines an unlikely friendship between two women. His latest release When You Are Mine is similarly themed, featuring a toxic friendship that shifts into obsession.
It occurs to me some of Robotham’s best work seem to be less about the solving of crimes and more about people; human nature – the best of it and the worst – and it’s this insight into our behaviour, that make his books addictive reads.
When You Are Mine
by Michael Robotham
Published by Hachette Australia
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Philomena 'Phil' McCarthy is a promising young officer in the London Metropolitan police.
But everything changes when she is called to the scene of a domestic assault. Unbeknownst to her, the abuser is a decorated detective and Phil's efforts to protect his girlfriend - Tempe Brown - from violence result in Phil being unjustly struck from the force.
In the fallout, Phil begins to teach Tempe self-defence and they strike up a tentative friendship. Tempe is thoughtful and sweet, and within a matter of weeks the two women are inseparable - talking, socialising and confiding their deepest secrets in one another. But something isn't right. Sinister things keep happening and, when a body is discovered, Phil realises that Tempe is hiding deadly secrets of her own. Secrets she is willing to kill for . . .
I adore the way Robotham effortlessly guides us through London, casually referencing routes taken and not-necessarily-famous-landmarks. He does the same with police procedures and other crimes. It’s obvious he knows his stuff but doesn’t feel the need to ram it down our throats.
The plot itself is familiar without being predictable, but it’s the characters really shine here and I very much liked the story arc featuring Phil’s family – namely her gangster father and uncles. It’s a trope I quite adore and here they’re a delightful antithesis to her world. I also (mostly, ahem) adored her relationship with fiance Henry which must have seemed very realistic as I was slightly envious of them.
My poorly written notes (as I was reading this in the bathtub) comment on the repartee that Robotham offers up, both between Phil and her family and with Henry. Robotham’s writing is (as usual) brilliant in that it seamlessly places we readers into the lives of the characters and offers no distractions until their story is over.
It’s hard to talk much about this book without giving anything away. In some ways it’s almost like it starts as something but ends up as something else. Something unexpected. Robotham drops hints and we, along with Phil, start to feel our spidey senses tingling along the way.
Tempe is like a condensed drop of colour that has landed in my world of water, spreading and outlining things, creating contrast and vividness. More than one drop might be too much. p 159
The book also touches on complex themes of domestic violence and mental illness and examines our values and how they impact on our relationships.
With complex and charismatic characters, a twisty and unexpected plot, effortless writing and clever and witty dialogue, this is perhaps my favourite ever Michael Robotham book.
When You Are Mine by Michael Robotham was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.