The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. (2021).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most. For Mariana, a group therapist struggling through grief, it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece Zoe, it’s where her best friend just got murdered. As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets. Behind it’s idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which comes from an exclusive female group of students known as The Maidens, who seem to be under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward. A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders and the victims. He becomes the prime suspect to Mariana and she is quickly obsessed…
After loving this author’s debut novel (The Silent Patient), I was really looking forward to seeing what was next. I’m happy to report that I think this novel is also a great story. It is the kind of book you won’t want to put down because you just want to race to the end to find out all the secrets. I thought the twist near the end was clever, particularly with some obvious and subtle red herrings thrown in along the way. As per normal when a person all of a sudden decides they are an investigator, Mariana made some questionable decisions after immediately deciding Edward is the murderer which gets her in some awkward and sticky situations. It’s all complicated by the fact that Mariana is still deeply grieving the loss of her beloved husband. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book gets optioned for film rights because it would play out fabulously on the screen.
Overall: I would happily recommend this novel for anyone that enjoys psychological thrillers, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future books from this author.