Title: The Night Ferry
Author: Michael Robotham
Publisher: Sphere 
Alisha Barba is a police constable on sick leave due to the horrific injuries she received during a previous case (which took place in Robotham’s Lost a.k.a. The Drowning Man). Cate Beaumont is an old friend from whom Alisha has been estranged for eight years but when she rings and asks to meet Alisha quickly agrees. On the night of the meeting the two talk only briefly before Cate and her husband are run down by a car. Alisha soon discovers that all is not what it seems and that Cate may have been embroiled in something sinister enough to warrant the attempt on her life.
I should have loved this book. I certainly expected to. In fact saved it up especially for a time when I’d want a guaranteed good read. But, alas, it was not to be.
I’ve really enjoyed Robotham’s two earlier books (Suspect and Lost). I like the way he seems to get into the characters heads in a believable way. But, in this case, I didn’t find the main character very credible at all. I don’t know if it’s because a white Australian male simply can’t speak in the voice of an English woman of Indian descent or something else but, whatever the reason, to borrow from the advertising business, I never ‘bought’ Alisha. One minute she was a courageous woman overcoming adversity or fighting for justice and the next throwing a grown-up tantrum or having a sulking session. The two sides didn’t gel together. And her lack of ability to understand the world is not as black and white as she would like grew tiresome.
As did the story. It was too repetitive. The first half (about 250 pages) could easily have been condensed because it went around in circles and had a whole lot of unnecessary scenes. A good book should fly by but this one flowed like mud travelling uphill. The premise was excellent and the overall themes were interesting but I lost interest in these as we went to another Dutch cafe for another pointless conversation and then had another bit of biffo with a bad guy to no apparent purpose.
Normally I’d have stopped reading long before the end. But I did keep wondering if I was missing something as I’d liked Robotham’s earlier books so much. So I plodded along. And, to be fair, it got better. The last 150 or so pages offered a decent resolution and did actually entertain me although Alisha’s annoyance factor only grew.
I’m glad this wasn’t the first Robotham book I read because if it had been I doubt I would pick up another. As it is I’m still looking forward to reading Shatter in a couple of months and can be philosophical that this particular book just wasn’t for me. I can’t count the number of times a book as captured my imagination or provided me with comfort or escape. So I guess the occasional disappointment isn’t too big a price to pay for all the hours of enjoyment.
My rating 2/5
As reading is all a matter of taste here are links to reviews with a different slant on the the book. You should, as always, make up your own minds.