Angst and Dark Love
Michael Robotham's novel Bleed for Me has been recently released in the U.S.
I am biased so let me be blunt. I’m a fan.
There are no bad Robotham novels. They are all good. Some are just better than others and this one is a damned fine read.
If you are new to Robotham’s work, know this. This is not a skim and skip and a race to the end. It’s not a parlour room whodunit with red herrings and implausible twists. Pay attention. There is no waste. No tricks. No sophistry. It’s an honest read. It resonates with verisimilitude. This is a measured piece, tight and efficient from a word smith and story teller who knows the value of words and how to hammer and weld them into powerful characters that we believe in and care about.
Bleed for Me explores the world of adolescence, the exploitation and corruption of innocence and the painful world of young adolescent love. We often look back on adolescent years as a golden time. Robotham reminds us that every sun kissed ray of gold can produce a painful shadowy darkness.
And love itself is stripped of it’s fuzzy soft glow. Love isn’t always a barefoot walk in the park, flowers and hot sex. It can be painful and it can be dark. And no one knows the pain,worry and unpredictability of the tempest tossed bark of emotion that is love better than Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. And that is one of the reasons why he is exceptionally good at this job.
Love makes us strong. It also makes us vulnerable.
Joe’ is not only plagued by a failing body and failed marriage but by his growing understanding of the darkness that dwells just beyond the perimeters of our lives and his inability to completely protect his family and those he loves.
The action does not take place on the Mean Streets. This is middle class suburbia and the darkness is just a razor slice, a scratch,a nick beneath the surface. Here is the difference between what we think we see and what is. What is on the surface and what is hidden. What is honourable and respectful and what is heinous and evil. And here, along with Joe O’Loughlin, we confront the truth that among the trappings of respectability and comfort we are never completely safe. And the young inspirational drama teacher we meet on parent teacher night or the amiable policeman mowing his lawn on the weekend may not be who we think they are at all.
The sun goes down on the Mean Streets as it does on Suburbia. Darkness doesn’t discriminate. It dwells where it pleases. And at the end of the day it is the decency in people like O’Loughlin and his good friend Ruiz that keep the candle of hope burning.