I haven’t written a negative book review for a while but I need to express my rebellious thoughts on “Good Girl Bad Girl” by Michael Robotham. I would have liked to give this seasoned author a pat on the back, but it won’t happen. He (and dare I say his publisher) goofed up, disappointing me with this latest offering. As a supporter of the Australian writers scene, it pains me to say I have even compiled a list of unwanted gaffes. And I’m disillusioned by such a rudimentary storyline, further dragged down by Robotham putting believability ahead of plausibility.
First, I’m not keen on psychologist Cyrus Haven, with his generic nightmares and ridiculous spontaneity when it comes to young Evie Cormac, aka Angel Face. Plots, eh, you need to drive them forward. Evie lived a feral existence in a secret room with a dead body outside the door and after rescue she was incarcerated in Langford Hall, Nottingham, a secure children’s home. Being of indeterminate age, she appears mature yet lapses into teenage obviousness as inexperienced Cyrus soon finds out. Her dubious, er, gift, is an attempt at originality until Robotham trots out tropes and formulaic predictability.
Maybe hackneyed phrases could be revised in another edition, do a bit of showing instead of continual telling, and jumping in and out of a character’s head doesn’t necessarily strengthen the story or boost the tension. In “Good Girl Bad Girl” the title hints at naughtiness and a girl dies yet the suspects aren’t new, just the usual line-up. When it comes to fiction, I don’t think crime scene minutia or yet another clichéd pathologist/priest/politician enhances a plot.
“Good Girl Bad Girl” is a ropey book launched into the world too soon.
I noticed these gaffes—
(1) Cyrus Haven does not own a mobile phone. He only has a pager and uses a telephone at the local shop, even DCI Lenny Parvel has to track him down while jogging. How come when he’s at home looking at DVDs of suspect Craig Farley, he has a bright idea and “I punch out her number. She doesn’t answer. It goes to her messages. Beep!”
(2) When Cyrus goes to an old church to talk to the murdered girl’s mother, he can’t get in the front doors because they are locked but when the priest asks him to leave he exits via the front doors.
(3) Poor proof-reading, fluctuating spelling like practice/practise, repeat words not edited out.
(4) Flight risk Evie’s electronic tracker on her ankle must vaporise.
(5) Evie’s POV couldn’t hear both sides of that phone conversation.
(6) I guess that Uber driver drove away fast.
(7) DCI Lenny Parvel is a woman yet “Lenny is signalling me from the road. Aiden is with him.”
(8) Cyrus has his hands taped to a vertical wooden stair spindle so how could “Cyrus grabs my arm” when later Evie frees him?
(9) Reader thinks “Am I missing some kind of joke?”
(10) Reader thinks “Is this an uncorrected proof?”
….. there are more blemishes, I got tired of it but you can easily find them.
A crime reader’s curse but I can also see the mechanics at work, the primary sentences, the leading questions, the verbal punches ready to be pulled, the transparent taunts and retorts used many times before, and I don’t mean just by Robotham. I include contemporary middle-of-the-road crime writers and television scriptwriters all using the same imagery. They must yearn for a movie deal. Unfortunately not even banter escapes the mundane repetition seen in current crime stories.
The arthritic white rabbit is still being pulled out of the narrative hat. Give it a rest!
I have not read any related book reviews so this is my unbiased honest opinion. With more polish “Good Girl Bad Girl” could have risen above the ranks of ordinary. New readers will be supportive, Australian fans will be supportive, but I think it’s a monotonous book and I say that with genuine regret.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward