Australian crime novelist Michael Robotham is known for dark psychological thrillers. Bleed for Me is headlined by a clinical psychologist, series regular Joe O’Loughlin. It also involves his teenage daughter and her friend, Sienna. Don’t let the word “series” slow you down — this one stands alone, even if the resonance of the story might be greater for those who have read them all.
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Adult/High School–Robotham blends crime drama, crumbling family relationships, and racial politics, and the result is a gripping, frightening, and often disturbing thriller. Even the good guys are creepy, keeping readers off-balance and unsettled and making the book that much more difficult to put down. Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is asked to create a profile of teenaged Sienna Hegarty, the prime suspect in her father’s murder. She was found covered in his blood, having no memory of what happened. As O’Loughlin begins to uncover ugly facts about her life, he is moved to dig even deeper for the truth. He has already lived through his own daughter’s kidnapping and helped jail the man who brutally attacked Sienna’s older sister; he refuses to let Sienna become another victim. His investigation slowly reveals the unsavory connections between Sienna, one of her teachers, and a school counselor. As this is happening, O’Loughlin’s estranged wife is serving as the translator for a Ukrainian hate-crime victim at the trial of his attackers, members of the racist, anti-immigrant British National Party. Further disturbing connections to Sienna and the murder are revealed. The plot twists and gradual unraveling of the truth behind the murder will keep fans of thrillers and crime dramas deeply engaged. The exploration of the behavior of child predators will be especially interesting–and educational–for young adult readers.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA