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When You Are Mine


When You Are Mine

Michael Robotham has received high praise throughout his career. Perhaps the best blurbs I have seen about his work assure readers that “you cannot turn away” from his novels. That is the ideal claim to pin on his latest release, WHEN YOU ARE MINE, which is a real barnburner of a psychological thriller that starts off quietly and then burns out of control by the shocking finale.

When Philomena “Phil” McCarthy was 11 years old, she lived through a violent incident that allowed her to see her future. She was riding on a double-decker bus in London that was victimized by a bombing. All she could remember was seeing the sky above her and people and limbs all around her as she saw the ground and then, once again, the sky. This tragedy shaped her in such a way that she knew she wanted to work in law enforcement, always remembering the officer who held her hand and spoke words of comfort following the attack.

"The last portion of WHEN YOU ARE MINE is brilliantly conceived, impossible to put down and demands to be made into a BBC miniseries."

Ironically, Phil's father and other members of the family are some of the most notorious gangsters and crime lords in the UK, so it actually took her a handful of attempts to even become part of the British police force. She is now a decorated officer who finished at the top of her class and is just months away from marrying her fiancé, Henry. Her life couldn’t get any better. Alas, that is all about to change in the most unexpected ways.

Phil and her partner, Anisha Kohli, take a call about an alleged domestic abuse situation. When they arrive, they find a young woman who has been savagely beaten, and Phil insists on taking her to the hospital. Her boyfriend is there, and he gives the officers an extremely tough time, verbally and physically. Not only is he married (this is the home of his mistress), he is a policeman himself and has a lot of connections.

Phil ends up recognizing the victim, Tempe Brown, from high school. She finds a place for Tempe to stay as she helps excise her from her harmful and potentially deadly relationship with Darren Goodall. Meanwhile, Phil's commander at work is none too pleased with her involvement in the case, as Goodall gave a completely different story that discredited her. Consequently, she is put on a brief suspension until everything can get sorted out.

Once Phil is summoned back to work, she is accosted outside her precinct by journalist Dylan Holstein, who somehow learned of the incident with Goodall. She has no comment to give, so Holstein proceeds to bring up an old case between him and her father that wasn’t very pleasant. She definitely does not want to get into it with him and walks away.

Robotham is such an expert plotter that he begins to tighten the noose around Phil slowly with so many different things happening in her life. She learns about a secret society of police officers to which Goodall belongs where he is basically a made man and untouchable. She then accepts an invitation from her extremely young stepmother to come to a party for her father, which she figures would be a good opportunity to introduce Henry and invite them to the wedding. While all of this is happening, her relationship with Tempe is becoming, well, odd. The woman is very clingy, and when Phil uses her police investigation skills to learn more about Tempe’s recent past, she uncovers some disturbing news.

Mix all of these elements into the pot, set it on high, and watch it boil and quickly overflow all over poor Phil. The last portion of WHEN YOU ARE MINE is brilliantly conceived, impossible to put down and demands to be made into a BBC miniseries.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 21, 2022

When You Are Mine
by Michael Robotham