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Robotham, Michael 1960-

Robotham, Michael 1960-

(Michael Shane Robotham)

PERSONAL: Born November 9, 1960, in Australia; married; children: three daughters.

ADDRESSES: Home—Sydney, Australia. Agent—Mark Lucas, Lucas Alexander Whitley, 74 Vernon St., London W14 0RJ, England.

CAREER: Writer, novelist, ghostwriter, and investigative journalist. Sun, London, England, journalist, 1979-83; Mail on Sunday, London, England, senior feature writer, 1986-92; freelance writer, 1992—; ghostwriter, 1993—. Served as a reporter for the Sun, Sydney, Australia.

AWARDS, HONORS: Ned Kelly Award, Australian Crime Writers Association, 2005, and Barry Award shortlist, 2006, both for Lost; Ian Fleming Steel Dagger shortlist and Ned Kelly Award shortlist, Australian Crime Writers Association, 2007, both for The Night Ferry.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Suspect, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2005.

Lost, Time Warner Books (London, England), 2005, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2006, published as The Drowning Man, Time Warner Books (London, England), 2006.

The Night Ferry, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2007.

The Sleep of Reason, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2008.

OTHER

Also ghostwriter of twelve autobiographies. Contributor to newspapers, including Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, and Tatler. Robotham’s books have been translated into fifteen languages.

ADAPTATIONS: Suspect will be adapted to film by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

SIDELIGHTS: Novelist Michael Robotham is a former investigative journalist for prominent newspapers in Australia and England, including the Mail on Sunday and the Sun. He has spent ten years working as a ghostwriter for a number of prominent celebrities and performers, penning more than a dozen autobiographies for notables such as Geri Halliwell, Rolf Harris, Lulu, and Tracy Edwards.

Suspect, Robotham’s debut novel, was sold based solely on the first 117 pages, which he showed to a publisher while he was still working as a ghostwriter. This fragment sparked fierce bidding between several American and foreign publishers before the work was sold to Doubleday. Impelled to finish the book after the sale, Robotham became “a sort of reluctant thriller writer,” he told Ayo Onatade in Shots: The Crime and Mystery Magazine.

In Suspect, London psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is a devoted family man and solid professional. His life begins to crumble when he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Later, while helping police detective Vincent Ruiz with some psychological profiling in a murder case, O’Loughlin becomes a suspect in the murder of nurse Catherine Mary McBride. She was once a patient of O’Loughlin’s who had accused him of harassment. Initially withholding information about his relationship with the deceased, citing doctor-client confidentiality, O’Loughlin eventually tells his story to the police, which makes them believe he had sufficient motive to kill her. As he proceeds through the investigation, O’Loughlin implicates himself even further, withholding key information at critical times—such as his alibi for the night of the murder—and unintentionally antagonizing Ruiz. As the evidence mounts against him, O’Loughlin is forced to flee, and he calls upon all of his reserves to cope with his failing health and strained marriage, and to exonerate himself in the face of overwhelming evidence. Library Journal reviewer Caroline Mann called the novel a “quick and satisfying read,” while Chris Nashawaty, writing in Entertainment Weekly, called it a “lightning-paced debut.” Frank Sen-nett, writing in Booklist, called O’Loughlin a “deliciously maddening character to root for.” Robotham demonstrates “real promise, putting a fresh spin on the familiar crime fiction trope of the falsely accused man,” noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. People contributor Edward Karam commented that “Robotham not only builds the suspense masterfully but tops it off with a stunning twist.”

O’Loughlin and Ruiz, now friends and trusted colleagues, return in Lost. The novel opens with a badly beaten Ruiz clinging to a buoy in the Thames River, seriously injured with a bullet wound in his leg and near death. Experiencing traumatic memory loss, Ruiz cannot remember how or why he was in the river, or who hurt him so badly. With O’Loughlin’s help, he reconstructs an investigation he had been conducting over the previous three years, trying to find the suspected murderer of a missing seven-year-old girl. Though a neighbor was convicted of the murder, a new ransom demand makes Ruiz believe the girl might still be alive. Before ending up in the Thames, Ruiz was apparently delivering that ransom—almost a thousand loose diamonds worth nearly four million dollars provided by the girl’s father, Russian mobster Aleksei Kuznet. Now the diamonds are missing, Ruiz cannot remember anything about the diamonds or the case, the detective’s actions have given the convicted killer a case for appealing his conviction, and the missing girl is no closer to being found. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book “bold and bracing, though following the plot twists is like riding a bucking bronco.” Sennett remarked favorably on the novel’s “top-notch pacing, plot, and characters,” and Mann noted that, as a thriller novelist, “Robotham has found his true calling.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer described the book as a “thoughtful and subtle thriller, with convincing, three-dimensional characters.”

Robotham’s next thriller, The Night Ferry, features Alisha Barba, who was Ruiz’s sidekick in Lost. Barba has completed her rehabilitation following a severe back injury, but rather than hurrying back to her job at the Metropolitan Police, she finds herself investigating a potential baby-selling ring. She is drawn into the case when an estranged friend is found murdered, and it turns out that the woman’s pregnancy was a fake. Barba calls on Ruiz to come out of retirement to assist her, and together they set out to solve the case. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews felt that The Night Ferry is “heartfelt and gripping, but neither as surprising nor as original as Robotham’s first two novels.” Sennett offered a more positive assessment of the work, however, remarking that “Barba proves a refreshingly different kind of protagonist for a British crime novel.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2004, Frank Sennett, review of Suspect, p. 565; November 15, 2005, Frank Sen-nett, review of Lost, p. 30; March 1, 2007, Frank Sennett, review of The Night Ferry, p. 69.

Bookseller, February 4, 2005, review of Lost, p. 29; May 13, 2005, “Getting Lost, Big Time,” review of Lost, p. 12.

Entertainment Weekly, February 11, 2005, Chris Nasha-waty, review of Suspect, p. 67; February 24, 2006, Adam V. Vary, review of Lost, p. 69.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004, review of Suspect, p. 1123; December 1, 2005, review of Lost, p. 1259; May 1, 2007, review of The Night Ferry.

Kliatt, September, 2005, Miles Klein, review of Suspect, p. 55.

Library Journal, November 15, 2004, Caroline Mann, review of Suspect, p. 51; December 1, 2005, Caroline Mann, review of Lost, p. 115.

People, March 14, 2005, Edward Karam, review of Suspect, p. 49.

Publishers Weekly, November 8, 2004, review of Suspect, p. 33; October 10, 2005, review of Lost, p. 33.

ONLINE

Michael Robotham Home Page,http://www.michaelrobotham.com (January 10, 2007).

Mostly Fiction,http://mostlyfiction.com/ (June 12, 2005), Sebastian Fernandez, review of Suspect;(January 29, 2006), Eleanor Bukowsky, review of Lost.

Shots: The Crime and Mystery Magazine,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (April 14, 2006), Ayo Onatade, interview with Michael Robotham, and review of Suspect.*

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