This review is one of a number that I am re-publishing as they were originally published elsewhere, not on this blog.
THE NIGHT FERRY is a fascinating book even if you only look at it from the point of view of how it fits with Michael Robotham’s earlier books. His first was THE SUSPECT where the central character was psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin. In a sense the second book, LOST (also published as THE DROWNING MAN) was a sequel to SUSPECT, with the same two main characters, Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz and psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. Whereas SUSPECT focused on O’Loughlin’s predicament, LOST focuses on Ruiz.
Now in THE NIGHT FERRY Detective Constable Alisha (Ali) Barba, a minor character in LOST, emerges in her own right, with assistance and mentoring from the now retired DI Vincent Ruiz. Ali Barba is still on medical leave, nearly recovered after her back was broken by a murder suspect a year earlier (in LOST). Now she is in limbo, her employers unable to decide where to place her.
There is to be a re-union of classmates at Ali’s old school. She receives a note from former classmate and best friend Cate, from whom she has been estranged for eight years. Cate says she is in trouble and asks Ali to come to the reunion. When they meet briefly Alisha sees that Cate is pregnant and Cate talks of people who are trying to take her baby. After the reunion Cate and her husband are knocked down by a taxi. The husband is killed and Cate is critically injured. Subsequent medical examination reveals that Cate was never pregnant.
From this tantalising beginning, Robotham builds a cleverly crafted story, and the character of Ali Barba grows and grows. We explore the consequences of a police force that moves too slowly, a justice system that refuses to charge criminals because it is not “in the public interest”, and the greed of those who see children as a saleable commodity. In true mystery style, things are not always as they seem and we discover the truth through Ali Barba’s eyes.
I have read all three of Robotham’s books. THE SUSPECT hooked me. I found LOST very dark but nevertheless intriguing and I remember thinking I must keep an eye out for the next. THE NIGHT FERRY is an excellent read. Has Robotham left the door open for another? The last line holds hope. “The end of one story is merely the beginning of the next.”
My rating for THE NIGHT FERRY: 5.0
For those who want to keep in touch with Michael Robotham, his website at http://www.michaelrobotham.com/aus/index.htm details his coming appearances and you can join his newsletter list. He also has a presence at CrimeSpace at http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/Michaelrobotham.
May 2007 Review