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.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Insinuation of Rape but not written out, death (lots of it in a murder mystery with basically a serial killer), Use of LSD, PTSD, Self-harm, suicidal thoughts/ideation, and Child Molestation.
This was a fun read, I really enjoyed the mystery part of it.
It’s the type of quick mystery that I always need to break up the fantasy and scifi I tend to just jump into constantly.
The pacing was pretty good as well, the sections weren’t too long and I found myself flying through it as I wanted to know who the culprit was. Some (most) of the twists were easy to spot, some took time, but they were enjoyable either way.
As far as writing styles goes, this has to be one of the better ones I’ve encountered for this sort of dark academia mystery. It was easy and engaging to read which also helped a lot with the faster pacing. And! The academic setting of Cambridge was really fun for me, I thought that it would have been nice to go outward from St. Christopher’s more but I did understand why it was done with a smaller scope.
The murders themselves weren’t really the focus, it was the sort of paranoia/intensity of trying to find out who did it that drove this book, a bit like the movie ‘Zodiac.’ The academia feel of it was in the very Grecian tragic endings of the victims in the manner of death. I liked the clues that Mariana finds and the urgency in which she begins to hunt for the killer as the victims add up.
The reason this didn’t rate higher for me though was that the MC, Mariana, was just that bad at their job. It made it really unconvincing and pulled me out of the story. Honestly how did she ever make it as a psychotherapist with missing so much? She is so obsessed with the suspect she wants to catch that she ends up missing so much.
I know it’s hard to know in the moment when one is under stress and the stakes are high but she missed every single red flag, even before the murder with her husband and with her own patients! WHY WOULD YOU WAIT IF SOMEONE CLEARLY NEEDED IMMEDIATE/EMERGENCY MEDICAL HELP? (Would the therapist who knows the patient is having a mental breakdown not want to act on that??) To be frank the biggest issue with Mariana is while I was reading all I could think was ‘she must be written by a male author’ (I hadn’t read The Silent Patient and I’d never looked up Alex)
Also the plot device used as a big reveal at the end was just used to get attention. It felt a shallow attempt at wrapping the story up and in poor taste. It let me down in a way to know that this was used instead of something more creative and unfortunately the ending that stems from that plot device left me unsatisfied.
Again though, some strong points: Great pacing and style, fun tidbits to finding the murderer, set in Cambridge, and fun to read.
3/5 cups of coffee from me. Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC of this to read in exchange for my honest review.