Book review: The Maidens

Power, greed, psychology, and Greek tragedy all resonate powerfully together in Alex Michaelides’ second novel, “The Maidens.” 

The novel begins as Mariana Andros, a group therapist with a tragic history of her own, makes her way to see her niece Zoe at Cambridge University following the death of Zoe’s friend. As Mariana comforts Zoe, her niece gives her disturbing news – she fears that her friend was murdered by their Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca. 

Mariana immediately believes her niece and starts doing her own investigative work, seemingly having no problem lying or ignoring her group therapy clients in the process. The more she explores the case, the more she becomes convinced Zoe is correct – and the less anyone believes her. 

Her case is compounded by Mariana’s own issues which are explored thoroughly throughout the book – she has a history of an unstable childhood and is mourning the death of her husband, a year earlier. 

To say any more would deprive the reader of a thrilling ride that Michaelides writes in his acknowledgments is his homage to Agatha Christie and P.D. James.  

Power is a theme heavily explored in the book – the dynamics between a therapist and a patient, between teacher and student, between parent and child. Most of the characters have some familial trauma – death of a parent, abuse, abandonment. By using Mariana’s therapy skills, these issues are studied intently and woven into a story with heavy Greek illustrations that follow the book’s themes flawlessly. 

The book is an easy read, a fun read. It starts powerfully, and the conclusion is fast, well-crafted, and logical. Overall, it’s a book that murder mystery fans should not miss. 

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