The Other Wife is the 9th book in the Joe O’Loughlin mystery series, and the first one I read. Joe O’Loughlin is a psychologist who works with police to solve murders, and he also has Parkinson’s disease. I love psychological thrillers — Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series is a long-time favourite — and I can’t believe I haven’t tried Michael Robotham till now.
In The Other Wife, the mystery hits close to home as Joe’s father is rushed to the hospital after being brutally attacked. Joe has always believed his parents have had a happy marriage for the past 60 years, so he’s taken aback to find another woman at his father’s side in the hospital room. This woman claims to be his father’s other wife, and was living with his father at the time of the attack.
Despite this being my first Joe O’Loughlin mystery, I found myself immediately hooked by the character and all the family drama he has to deal with. It’s traumatic enough to discover that your parents’ marriage isn’t as solid as you’d always believed, much less to make such a discovery at your father’s deathbed. When investigating the attack and considering suspects, how impartial can Joe really be when he studies the possible role his father’s mistress may have played in the attack? The mystery here somewhat takes a backseat to the intense family drama, but at the same time, the mystery is so intertwined with the drama that one can’t really separate them.
I also really like how Joe’s Parkinson’s is integrated into the story, such that it feels real — we see how Joe adapts to living with this condition, and we also see how it can sometimes affect his life despite all his efforts to keep it under control. There’s a really striking scene where Joe tries to say something to the cops, and because Parkinson’s is making him slur his words, they think he’s drunk and are dismissive of what he’s trying to say. It’s something that I can imagine does happen to some people with Parkinson’s, or possibly other types of neurological conditions or speech impediments, and I like that Robotham included such doses of realism about Joe’s condition.
As I said, I love psychological thrillers, and I really enjoyed this book. I’ll definitely have to check out more of this series.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.