After a brief break, Michael Robotham has returned to the world of psychologist Joe O'Loughlin in Close Your Eyes. O'Loughlin has featured in many of Robotham's books as both protagonist and offsider to Vincent Ruiz, who has starred in his own novels and also gets called in in this case.
A woman and her daughter are found dead in a farmhouse near Bristol. The two victims have been killed in very different ways, there are plenty of suspects and all of them seem to be lying about some aspect of the event. The police are at a dead end and under pressure from the community. They have been further frustrated by a psychologist who they brought in and who revealed confidential case details to the public. O'Louhglin is called in to help clean up the mess and solve the case.
As with many of Robotham's books, the action is punctuated by short sections from the killer's point of view. Rather than revealing anything much about the crime, at least until the end, these interludes effectively up the creepiness factor. Robotham is great at cluing in the reader to the issues driving his killers. In this case, the initial murders are related to a much broader campaign that the killer is waging.
O'Loughlin continues to be a great protagonist. He has an almost Holmesian ability to read people and a single minded dedication to solving the seemingly unsolvable. On the personal side, he is still desperately trying to patch things up with his family and be a good father while also dealing with his Parkinson's disease. O’Loughlin’s relationship with his wife and daughters forms a significant element of this novel and give it a deep emotional core.
Close Your Eyes only really suffers in comparison to previous O’Loughlin novels, particularly the Ned Kelly Award winning Shatter, which it most resembles and the events of which are referenced frequently. This is not surprising as that novel also heavily featured Joe’s family. But it is another compulsive and surprisingly poignant thriller and will be a welcome return for the many Joe O’Loughlin fans.