If you’re after a gripping thriller, you can’t do better than Michael Robotham; as close to a sure thing as you get in the genre, which is a line I used last year when reflecting on “When You Are Mine,” but one that deserves repeating. He makes it look so easy, you wonder why all suspense novels aren’t this slick.
“Lying Beside You” is the third novel in his Cyrus Haven series, which sees the forensic psychologist embroiled in a complicated police investigation involving two missing women; the second of whom was last seen by Evie Cormac, the young woman Cyrus has opened his home to as she struggles to deal with her traumatic childhood.
Speaking of childhood trauma — “Lying Beside You” deals with Cyrus’s. Twenty years ago, his whole family was murdered, with the exception of Cyrus, obviously; and his brother, the killer. When the book opens, Elias is set for release from the psychiatric hospital he’s spent the last two decades being treated, and it’s expected he’ll settle in the family home — alongside Cyrus and Evie.
Robotham derives plenty of tension from this reunion. There is the emotional strain of Cyrus faced with the man who dismantled his childhood, and any semblance of innocence; but also the conceivable threat of violence should Elias suffer another psychotic episode.
The two narratives sort of twist around each other like the helix of a DNA strand until a grand culmination. As always with Robotham, there’s plenty of pleasure derived from the unravelling of its mysteries, but it’s the emotional stakes that make his books stand out.