Another thriller featuring a therapist

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“‘It was written’ is the Greek expression. Meaning, quite simply, from that moment on, their destinies were sealed.”

The Maidens is the sophomore effort from the author of The Silent Patient and another psychological thriller.

“Possibly the greatest truths we know have come out of people’s suffering.”
-Arthur Miller

Mariana is a group therapist, living alone in London after the death of her husband. Much of the book is about her inability to cope with losing him and her sad, solitary existence. Her mother died shortly after giving birth to her and her father was cold and distant; her niece became a de facto daughter to her when she was orphaned as a child. Now, that niece Zoe is all she has left in the world. When she gets a call from Zoe about a murder at Cambridge where she attends school, Mariana goes to her aid.

This novel is a funny one. Mariana and her niece are so unmoored, silent and sad, that the whole book feels sad. Mariana is a therapist but can’t control her emotions; she feels like she is being followed for most of the book and at a few points it turns out she in fact has been followed. She meets a young student who falls in love with her at first sight and she seems to attract the attention of the man she believes has committed the Cambridge murders (because the killer doesn’t stop at one). She also has an alcohol problem; this is not said in the book but she’s constantly drinking wine and draining her glass. Frequently she feels fuzzy and yet goes to the bar to unwind with a man she hardly knows. The main character feels fuzzy to the reader too; she’s impulsive in her behavior even though several characters remark on her stillness and obvious grief.

The ending was not a surprise, but only because the first book by the author had a surprise ending so every character in the book, from the porter at school to Mariana’s favorite professor becomes a suspect in the mind of the reader.

This book was very sad. Reading about a widow losing control of her emotions while drinking to her detriment was hard. In the end, the book didn’t make a lot of sense. A therapist butting in to police work would probably end up being a suspect, not merely threatened. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would hunt a serial killer rather than take my child home to safety.