Chris Nashawaty
February 07, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Suspect

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Michael Robotham
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it a B

Poor Helen Mirren must be getting a bit bored after six installments as brassy BBC detective Jane Tennison. But soon Prime Suspect fanatics will have a new sleuth to curl up with: Joe O’Loughlin, hero of Michael Robotham’s lightning-paced debut (and fodder for its own BBC miniseries). Unfortunately, this Suspect isn’t as original, relying on one of the dustiest plot devices in detective fiction — one that probably wasn’t all that fresh when Dashiell Hammett tapped it for The Maltese Falcon: An innocent man framed for murder must find the real killer before the cops can pin the crime on him. Still, Robotham gives the cliché a solid workout. O’Loughlin is a happily married London psychologist with a patient who’s been stabbed 21 times; a bare-knuckle detective doesn’t buy his alibi. So the race is a foot with plenty of clever twists and turns, but just as many that are way too convenient.

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