The combination of the success of Michaelides' first Book The Silent Patient and the reference to the classics and Greek mythology, meant that this was a book I was very much looking forward to.
A Cambridge University student is found dead. Her friend's aunt is a psychotherapist and former student and believes that the killer is the charismatic classics lecturer, who has a special group of students he calls The Maidens. The police don't agree, believing it to be the girl's boyfriend. So the psychotherapist goes to discover the truth herself.
Set mainly in the University gives a hint of the gothic, with the large buildings, passageways and dark rooms. The lecturer reminds me of film portrayals of Count Dracula and his group of Maidens are all 'beautiful', so that it comes across as trite throughout. Up until about half way through the story moves too slowly by telling the background of how people met each other, in very mundane circumstances. Even the short chapters don't up the pace here. Plus, everyone shrugs. Everyone.
The story is told in the third person from the viewpoint of the female psychotherapist and in the first person by the killer. In the second half of the book the killer's perspective increases and there are a few suspects to choose from. The pace increases as do the references to the Greek myths, which is a tad vapid despite the use of the Greek language for authenticity. The most absurd aspect of the book is how unprofessional and at times ludicrous the psychotherapist character is. Thrilling towards the end, so keep going.
Published by Orion Publishing Group on 10 June 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.