Sphere | 24 June 2021 | 416 pgs
Philomena McCarthy has a complicated dark background. Being the daughter of a notorious London gangster and her uncles are ex-prisoners, one would think that her characteristics and her upbringing would be as bad, but ironically Phil's job is the polar opposite of her family's doings. She works as a police officer with the Metropolitan Police and it's actually a childhood incident which prompted her to follow this career path. A female police officer saved Phil from a bus bombing and from there onwards her life changes.
Given her family background, it's no surprise that Phil is often judged by her peers and superiors, but this doesn't deter her until a domestic assault case landed her job in jeopardy. Phil and her partner are called in to assist a woman who's believed to be abused by her boyfriend. The abuser turns out to be a decorated police detective and is widely known for his heroic act in a saving attempt years ago. Once again, Phil finds herself being discriminated and worst of all, being threatened to drop the case and eventually the incident is hushed up and put away. Phil didn't just let this go; she befriends Tempe Brown, the victim, so that she could find out more about DS Darren Goodall. Tempe and Phil soon become good friends, but the former keeps interfering into Phil's personal life. Phil's once peaceful life becomes chaotic ever since her involvement of the domestic assault case; it is apparent that Darren Goodall has several powerful friends within the police force and as more sinister incidents crop up, Phil has no one to turn to except her estranged family.
This book was a page-turner and the author has captured the tension and the atmosphere well, especially the male-dominated police force, its hierarchy and how a "clique" within the police force could be quite menacing once any one of their authorities is being questioned. And then, there's the toxic relationship between Tempe and Darren, and the obsessive friendship between Tempe and Phil which overall made this a compelling read. Phil was an interesting character, but I wasn't enamoured by her reckless behaviours and how gullible she could be at times, but I understand this is part of the portrait of who she is. This is my first Michael Robotham book and definitely not my last.
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