Stephanie’s Pick: The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Alex Michaelides, author of the twisty New York Times best seller The Silent Patient, is back at it again with his sophomore novel The Maidens. Set in the academic world of Cambridge University Michaelides incorporates ancient Greek mythology into this fast-paced psychological mystery. But don’t worry, you don’t have to break out your Mythology 101 notes from high school to enjoy this story. The ancient Greeks are just a back drop, and the references to Greek mythology are explained as the narrative moves along.
The novel follows group therapist Marianna after she receives an urgent phone call from her beloved niece, Zoe, asking her to come to Cambridge University immediately. A dead body has been found on campus and Zoe is worried the body belongs to her missing best friend. Marianna, still grieving the loss of her husband, feels compelled to comfort Zoe, her only living relative, even if it means returning to the place where she met and fell in love with her late husband.
More bodies are discovered once Marianna arrives in Cambridge and her focus turns to the handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor Edward Fosca. Fosca becomes Marianna’s prime suspect mainly due to the fact that the victims are not only his pupils, but also members of The Maidens: a secret society comprised of his favorite female students. Marianna, convinced that Fosca is killing off his Maidens, sets out on a dangerous quest to prove his guilt despite opposition from the remaining Maidens who become more loyal to, and protective of, their beloved professor. Marianna soon becomes obsessed with bringing down the enigmatic professor, and becomes blind to the danger that has surrounded her since returning to her alma mater.
The Maidens is a page-turner that shouldn’t be viewed as cut and dried mystery just because Marianna has her mind made up about professor Fosca. There are still plenty of suspects, and like in Michaelides first novel, everything is not always quite what it seems…