Published by Harlequin/MIRA, 4th June, 368 pages, £7.99
Quick Description: Psychological thriller, suitable for YA and over, deals with Asperger’s syndrome, the justice system, espionage, drugs and memory.
Plot: Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder. DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, yet she claims she’s innocent. Then she starts to remember…
A strange room. Strange people. Being watched.
As Maria gets closer to the truth she is drawn into a web of international intrigue and must fight not only to clear her name but to remain alive.
Once in a while I like to branch out from the romance genre and write reviews for books that I feel deserve them, like Weightless, which was a mega-brilliant YA piece.
I do like a good psychological thriller sometimes because I don’t like too much gore and violence. I think this novel hits the right notes in terms of mental and physical balance. It is very action-packed and there are some punchy fight-scenes, but its not freakishly brutal. It definitely takes paranoia to another level, making the reader want to scan the room for any hidden ‘spiders’. I actually was a bit hesitant about reading a book that might have spiders in it. I know, I know. But fellow arachnophobes would understand ;).
Anyway, the ‘spider’ and its position is more of a symbol for Maria’s state of mind: its too small to tell, so is it really there or not? Is this real or not?- basically. Maria has Asperger’s, a condition that I was not familiar with. I think the author provides a good insight into it after some solid research. She captures the heightened sensitivity, hyper-intelligence, and inflexibility. We feel for Maria’s state of confusion, panic and anxiety as she finds it difficult to socialize and follow orders in prison. Something that frustrated me was how characters kept trying to stop her from saying or doing things and treat her as if she is crazy. So I was definitely rooting for her.
The novel is split into two settings. It starts with Maria in prison, but also shifts to a later date where she is undergoing therapy and recounting her time there. The two periods start to weave as the past catches up to the future. Within these time-frames, there are also flashbacks, some related to her childhood but some disturbing she cannot figure out why they are there. So the author cleverly allows us to live out Maria’s mental state and be completely disorientated in the mess of her memories. I was constantly dizzy- did that just happen? Seriously what is going on right now?
Apart from being compelling and intriguing, I loved how the novel was very unpredictable. The author teases out revelations which are like POW POW, but I would never have guessed them. The mystery just gets bigger and bigger. And the characters surrounding Maria; her prison inmates, her therapist, her lawyer and her own family get harder and harder to trust. And here’s another thing, it gets difficult at times to trust Maria as well. She is constantly accused of having impaired memory and even questions herself. As she gets closer to piecing the puzzle together, she gets closer to the ‘spider’, but is it really there??
This is what I love. Not a simple find-and-solve, but a deep, complicated scramble and double-back. Bring on book 2!
Connect with the author: http://www.nikkiowenauthor.com
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for my review copy! x