Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.
Synopsis source: Goodreads
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This is the second novel from the best-selling author of The Silent Patient, which I really enjoyed, and I was eager to see what sort of twist Michaelides had in store for me this time. I really enjoy psychological thrillers because I enjoy peeling back the layers of a character’s psyche. I also really enjoy the challenge of trying to guess the killer, obviously.
Reading this book resurrected memories of my high school literature class, called Great Books, where we read several works of Greek literature. Dusting off my limited knowledge of Greek mythology and pairing it with those memories definitely helped me follow along with much of the Greek references in this book. That said, there was still some that could have been explained better, though the Ancient Greek passages were pretty cool.
I enjoyed the fact that Mariana was a psychologist, but frankly, I wasn’t a big fan of her as a character. I found her actions and reactions to be irrational much of the time. For example, why would she agree to a private dinner with someone she thinks is guilty of murder? The food is already prepared and laid out for her, and she ate it? Alcohol was provided, and never mind the fact that she could have been roofied, she made the choice to drink something that would dull her senses around someone she strongly suspected of murder? Really? Ugh. That’s just one example.
That said, there was a lot of great build up and sketchy characters. The story kept me guessing right up until the reveal at the end, but I was disappointed and let down by the twist and the killer’s motivations. It was mentioned in the book how the killer was almost theatrically going for the shock factor with the murders and the way the bodies were positioned. Seems to me that maybe the author was doing the same thing, but it just didn’t hold water for me.
I liked the Greek references and the psychological aspects of the story, as well as the cameo of Theo and mention of The Grove from The Silent Patient, but that twist took a pretty good book and knocked it down to just an okay book.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Come tell me during our virtual book club!
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Join us on Tuesday, June 28th at 7pm CST on Instagram Stories Live to chat with and get to know this month’s co-host, work on a project, sip some bevies, and talk all about The Maidens. Allow me to introduce my co-host for the evening, Shanice of Crochetastic Boutique! Update: Catch the replay below!
Crochetastic Boutique – Shanice
Shanice is a crocheter living in the St. Louis area. She learned how to crochet as a way to pass the time during the long distance dating years with her now husband who served in the U.S. Navy. 7 years later, she became a pattern designer and offers has a blog of free crochet patterns and occasionally makes small batches of clay crochet hooks.
When she isn’t crocheting, you can find Shanice crafting home decor items or enjoying a nice scoop of peanut butter and marshmallow mixer from Culver’s!
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