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Review: Robotham puts ordinary man in danger

MARY FOSTER The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:21 AM

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"Bleed for Me" (Mulholland/Little, Brown), by Michael Robotham

As if Joe O'Loughlin doesn't have enough troubles — he suffers from Parkinson's disease and has split up with his wife and still longs for her return — now his teenage daughter's best friend is suspected of murdering her father.

Sienna shows up at O'Loughlin's house covered with blood and hysterical. She quickly disappears, sending police and neighbors looking for her. O'Loughlin joins the search and finds the girl, barely alive and unable to remember what happened at her house that night.

Tests confirm the blood on Sienna is her father's, a celebrated former policeman who is found stabbed to death on the floor of Sienna's bedroom.

O'Loughlin, a psychologist, is asked to help with the case, something he is reluctant to do — and his wife is adamantly against. But he hopes it will help his relationship with his daughter, and he wants to help Sienna.

Sienna is very troubled. She certainly has motive for murdering her father, and she has been coping by cutting herself — shallow cuts on her arms and legs just deep enough to let blood flow and relieve the pressure she's feeling — hence the book's title, "Bleed for Me."

The book offers a complex plot and well-developed characters. It also allows O'Loughlin to examine his life, which grows more and more complicated as he tries to hang on to his career and dreams of being reunited with his family.

O'Loughlin is also dealing with Parkinson's, or as he calls it, "Mr. Parkinson," which he describes as "a progressive, degenerative, chronic but not contagious disease that means I'm losing my brain without losing my mind."

It causes him to have difficulty controlling his arms and legs, especially if he doesn't take his medication.

Robotham is a first-class storyteller, delivering a novel that, although melancholy, appeals as both a thriller and a literary read.

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