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Shatter / Michael Robotham

Doubleday / March 2009
Reviewed by: Rick R. Reed

Synopsis: It was Stephen King who talked me into reading Shatter. This is what he had to say in Entertainment Weekly:

“Gideon Tyler, the deranged villain of this exceptional suspense novel, is a devil so persuasive he's able to talk his victims into killing themselves. His opposite number, psychologist Joe O'Loughlin, must match wits with Tyler to save his wife and child from deaths almost too horrible to contemplate. Don't get into the second half of this book before that Green Day concert, or you'll end up staying home to see how it all comes out.”

Review: When Stephen King praises a suspense novel, I think I’ll take notice. And I definitely think I will have to pick up more of Michael Robotham’s work. Shatter is a book that offers readers such original and delightful shades of darkness and light that I wondered when I had last been so impressed.

And then I remembered. The last time I was so duly impressed was when I first read Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs. Robotham, with his villain, Gideon Tyler, has created such a deliciously demented—and brilliant—character that I couldn’t help but get caught up in the evil he was perpetrating. Much like Thomas’s Hannibal Lecter, Tyler is so whacked out, but so smart, he is truly a monster, but a monster we cannot bear to look away from. And what this monster does is so quietly horrendous that it ventures into nightmare territory. Having worked in secret military forces, Tyler is a master of manipulation, and knows exactly what buttons to push to get his victims to do his bidding, up to and including suicide. We get a front-row seat to his techniques and you may balk at the notion that a human being can compel another happy, well-adjusted human being to commit suicide…until you read this book. Gideon Tyler is that mesmerizing and that clever. Robotham makes Tyler’s persuasive techniques completely credible and the book is all the more chilling for it.

Robotham’s hero, Joe O'Loughlin, is, in my opinion, an even more original creation than Harris’s Clarice Starling, and perhaps, in his own way, more sympathetic and compelling. A psychologist, O’Loughlin get pulled into Gideon Tyler’s web when he first gets involved at the behest of his local police force to help talk down a woman who is about to jump to her death from a bridge. We know right away that this is no ordinary suicide and it isn’t long until O’Loughlin—and his family—are pulled into the monster’s web. What makes O’Loughlin so believable and sympathetic is that he’s one of us: an ordinary, flawed man who worries about his children, his marriage, and his future. And I am pretty sure that Robotham here has created the first, or at least one of the first, heroes with Parkinson’s Disease.

Shatter really has it all when it comes to the thriller genre: it’s fast-paced, has uniquely and wonderfully-drawn characters, contains a great mystery at its center, and makes you want to read more from Michael Robotham. If his other stuff is even a fraction as good, you’re in for some breathtaking suspense.

Purchase Shatter by Michael Robotham.

Columnist Rick R. Reed is the author of ten novels and has short fiction in more than twenty anthologies. He lives in Seattle, WA. Find out more about the author at his website.

Posted on Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 01:45PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine | CommentsPost a Comment

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