As I noted some time ago, Michael Robotham is doing things differently in the world of crime fiction and doing them rather well. Loosely based around the same team, he’s changed protagonist with each novel. His first, The Suspect centred on Joseph (Joe) O’Loughlin, a psychotherapist and main suspect in an investigation led by Vincent Ruiz of the Metropolitan Police; in The Drowning Man (formerly called Lost), DI Ruiz becomes the main protagonist, with Joe his ever present mate and we also meet Alisha Barba. As The Night Ferry opens, Ruiz has retired and here it’s Alisha that takes the lead (with Joe making no appearance at all, but with Ruiz ever present).
An extra to the anticipation for this series is that you just don’t know what Robotham will deliver next. Books one and two both presented potential dead ends or short lives for the characters. Joe is a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease. Ruiz was obviously coming up for retirement. Alisha had a very nasty accident…
But start each book and you quickly realise you’re in skilled hands when it comes to storytelling. All for me have felt like a magic carpet suddenly arriving, scooping me up and not letting me go until the very final and satisfying moment of reading the last words on the last page. I read The Night Ferry in two sittings and only because I had to. So what’s it all about?
In a nustshell: Alisha Barba has a school reunion coming up. Out of the blue, an old school friend from whom she became estranged contacts her asking for her help. They arrange to meet at the school reunion. Cate is eight months pregnant, but before Alisha can get to the bottom of what is troubling her, Cate is mown down by a car. She later dies in hospital, where Alisha discovers that the pregnancy is a fake. In pursuit of the truth, Alisha discovers the extent someone desperate to have a child might go to and the company they might find themselves in as a result. As Alisha, enlisting the help of her now retired colleague Vincent Ruiz, pursues her own investigation she is drawn into the world of human trafficking…
In pursuit of the truth, much is put in Alisha’s way. Even Cate’s father proves to be more hindrance than help.
Some parts of this novel are particularly sad and disturbing, but it is not without some humour either. The ongoing attempts by Alisha’s parents to partner her up are very funny.
This is very definitely a third tour de force from Robotham and a cracking read.