Review: Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

Summary: A girl is discovered in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?

Genre: mystery, thriller
Rating: 3/5 stars

Once again I find myself in the minority here, as this book has a pretty high rating and has overall received positive praise. And once again, I find myself wondering if I’m the problem, if maybe I should take a break from thrillers (seriously this time), or maybe I should stop having such high expectations for every one I read. Because believe me, there are so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed. But somewhere along the way, the story started to lose me, and the bad started to outweigh the good.

Good Girl, Bad Girl is cleanly cut into two separate stories. The first is about a murdered teen and the case surrounding her death, with Cyrus helping the police. The second is about Evie, a girl with a mysterious past who Cyrus takes an interest in. I was waiting for these two stories to collide, but they just barely scraped the surface with each other. Evie has some secret skill where she can automatically detect when someone is lying. I expected Cyrus to use her to aid in the case.

There’s even a scene where Evie watches confession tapes, and I thought for sure this would be her segue into the case, but says she can’t tell if the suspect is telling the truth or not because her skill only works when she’s face-to-face with the person. I figured she would be in the interrogation rooms with people, because while that isn’t practical in the slightest, it would at least make for a good story.

However, the story veers off and Evie gets caught up in some trouble with someone in the same circle as Jodie, the murdered girl. Even after Evie finds her way back to Cyrus, she doesn’t really use any of the knowledge she gained to help with the case. She basically tells Cyrus what she experienced, and then she refuses to report any of it to the police, even though that would help them tremendously. And that’s the end of that. Evie is gone for roughly two days, which span a big portion of the book, and there’s such little resolution to her missing time.

While Evie is missing, Cyrus acknowledges she’s gone but doesn’t have any time to really process that or look for her because he’s too busy working on the case. They have such a strange relationship to begin with, where they both skirt around the other to avoid stepping on toes, but this felt so out of character for Cyrus. He willingly fostered Evie so she wouldn’t be stuck in the system, and he goes out of his way to make sure she’s comfortable and content outside the institution. But then she goes missing, and he says, “Shoot, she’s gone, but I can’t report it to anyone, hopefully she comes back!” and continues on with his case.

There are plenty of twists and turns with the case and enjoyed them despite finding them somewhat predictable – a man confesses incredibly early on, so as a reader you know there’s going to be a big twist, because no murders are ever solved that easily in fiction. The final scene seemed to come out of nowhere and showed us how little we knew the characters in this story, but that makes sense considering there was so much going on here it was hard to give the right amount of attention to everyone. I wish characters had been more fleshed out and given more focus.

There’s also a lot of focus and introduction on who Evie is or isn’t. She has such a dark past, and she lies constantly so no one really knows who she is. She has no documentation of her existence, let alone her real name. She has some memories that work their way into the story, but for the most part she is still such an enigma. If this book had been longer, it would have been able to properly explore both the Jodie case and give us Evie’s background, but instead it seemed to just be set up for the sequel, which seems to focus more specifically on Evie and has her and Cyrus working as a team. I’m interested enough that maybe I’ll check out the sequel, but I also felt cheated that it was intentionally left out of this book when it could have worked.

The gist of it is that I really enjoyed both stories, but I don’t know that they coincide very well.

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