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Bleed for Me    by Michael Robotham order for
Bleed for Me
by Michael Robotham
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Mulholland, 2012 (2012)
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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael Robotham has long been on my absolutely must read list and Professor Joe O'Loughlin (a skilled and tenacious psychologist who suffers from Parkinson's) is my favorite of his characters. So I was delighted to see that O'Loughlin is the lead in Bleed for Me.

Despite being separated at his linguist wife Julianne's request, Joe remains very close to his family, often watching over their cottage from outside at night. He lives nearby with his beloved dog Gunsmoke and cat Strawberry, and lectures on behavioural psychology at the University of Bath. He's still guilt-ridden over his teen daughter Charlie's abduction in Shatter, the event that precipitated the separation.

As Bleed for Me opens, Charlie's best friend Sienna (who cuts herself to control her pain) shows up at their home covered in blood. After Joe helps track her down, her father (decorated police officer Ray Hegarty, since retired) is found murdered in Sienna's bedroom. A semi-catatonic Sienna becomes the chief suspect. DCI Veronica Cray, head of the Major Crime Investigation Unit, asks for Joe's help in interviewing her. Joe learns that Hegarty abused his daughters and is embroiled in the investigation for Charlie's sake.

Julianne is working as an interpreter at a 'race-hate trial' - as we watch its progression, we wonder how it relates to Sienna's situation. The common denominator injects violence and danger into Joe's already unraveling life. The psychologist has a brief fling with attractive school counselor Annie Robinson, which further complicates his domestic situation. After confronting one of Charlie's teachers, whom he suspects of an interest in young girls, Joe is arrested for assault.

Of course, Joe's good friend, retired Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz, gets involved in the investigation - and you have to love a character who feels that 'being politically correct was like pretending you could pick up a dog turd by the clean end.' Together they eventually make sense of it all. Bleed for Me is one of the best episodes in an already exceptional series. If you haven't discovered it yet, then you have a rare treat in store - start with Suspect and keep on reading all seven amazing thrillers.

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