When SAY YOU'RE SORRY was announced I promised myself that this time - straight to the top of the pile. After all, what's not to look forward to - a solid police procedural with a psychological aspect, written by an Australian, set in the United Kingdom. One of the tricks of this series is that Robotham is switching the main viewpoint around between a couple of central protagonists - ex-cop Vincent Ruiz and clinical psychologist, Joe O'Loughlin. Now at a pinch I'd have to say that Ruiz is my favourite of these two characters, but that's not to say that O'Loughlin isn't also a strong central character.
Robotham has carefully constructed a story in SAY YOU'RE SORRY which includes one of the more difficult viewpoints - that of the living, captured victim of a kidnapper, sex attacker and vicious man. Teenager Piper's voice is extremely authentic, frequently quite chilling, yet Robotham carefully controls the amount of exposure that the reader must endure, whilst simultaneously dolling out the details of the fate of both girls, their families, the village and the investigating team.
Followers of this series will know about Joe O'Loughlin's own past - the Parkinson's disease that originally, I believe, came to Robotham as an dilemma for a man whose understanding of the human mind can do nothing about the disease that is slowly taking away control of his own body. They will also know that he is now separated from his wife, although they are still in close touch if for no other reason than the support and care of their daughters. Their oldest daughter Charlie makes a classic teenager's appearance in this book, and it's a nice touch that when Charlie in trouble O'Loughlin's call for help goes straight to Vincent Ruiz. Ruiz is there in SAY YOU'RE SORRY, working with O'Loughlin as is the way with these books now, yet this story is more about getting into the head of a killer, of understanding the sort of madman who would kidnap two young girls, and seemingly keep them alive for 3 more years.
There are quite a few red herrings as is traditional, and there is a decent surrounding story of the two kidnapped girls, their families, events that led up to their disappearance, and the lives of at least two of the early suspects in the case. All this extraneous information builds and fleshes out the book and creates a world in which the victim, for whom there is still some hope, Piper, isn't forgotten and the reason for the chase not lost in the detail. To be honest the guilty party came as quite a surprise. What doesn't surprise at all is how good these books are, and SAY YOU'RE SORRY is no exception.