When her husband dies unexpectedly, Mariana Andros is set adrift. She isn’t sure how to attend to her therapy patients or herself, and she’s lost in grief. When her niece Zoe calls about a tragedy at her school—Mariana’s alma mater—having to help her family gives Mariana purpose. It also leads her to the mystery at the heart of Alex Michaelides’ new book, The Maidens.
The intrigue in the book is established early through Mariana, who is torn between helping her niece and returning to her therapy practice. As she tries to determine what to do, a multitude of characters enters the picture. A patient who seems to be fixated on her, a creepy professor with a following of beautiful young co-eds, and a stranger Mariana meets on the train could all be responsible for the pain and death occurring at Cambridge University.
Michaelides paints a deft and detailed picture of the campus, the young women, and the mental and emotional struggles Mariana endures, although there are times when the book is overwritten. Also, there are chapters written like diary entries that have no clear author until the end. While this trick is intriguing, it might have been more effective to eliminate them and allow the mystery to exist on its own. If you want a twisty-turny whodunit, The Maidens is the book for you.
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