A Slow Fire Burning

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water, is back with another edgy and disturbing murder mystery-cum-psychological thriller. A young man, Daniel, gets brutally murdered in a London houseboat and now there are three suspects. Laura, his one night stand, who was last seen with him; Carla, his aunt; and Miriam, his nosy neighbour living on an adjacent houseboat. As the story unravels, so does the dark and damaged lives of the three women, intersecting and intertwining, ultimately leading to a grim climax.

The author is proficient at putting unlikeable and troubled women as her protagonists. In this book too, Laura who suffers from disinhibition, comes across as extremely unhinged. She is a victim of various childhood traumas due to which she has trouble managing her anger, emotions and behaviour. Through the various characters and plot lines, the book highlights the repercussions of PTSD, grief, loneliness and revenge.

Despite it being a page turner, the book still left me a tad underwhelmed. Maybe it’s because of the invariable comparison to the brilliancy of the author’s previous books. Nonetheless, Hawkins does create an atmospheric and creepy narrative. Do read!


The Maidens

Absolute page turner! This next psychological whodunnit thriller from Alex Michaelides (his previous was the brilliant, The Silent Patient) is gripping and riveting to say the least. The story is set in the prestigious Cambridge university. Mariana, a group therapist, in London, is struggling to cope with the sudden demise of her husband. Whilst she’s going about balancing her emotional state and conducting her group therapy sessions, she gets a frantic call from Zoe, her niece, who’s studying at Cambridge, about the mysterious and gruesome murder of her roommate. Mariana, immediately, sets off for Cambridge, to comfort her niece. During her visit, Mariana gets sucked into the sinister developments going on in the university. She gets especially intrigued about a secret society of female students called “The Maidens” led by a charismatic Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca. When another one of “The Maidens” gets brutally murdered, Mariana gets convinced that it’s Fosca who is the murderer and she takes it upon herself to prove it so.

While keeping the story taut and chilling, the author throws some insight into Mariana’s psychology. Raised by a father who abandoned her emotionally and left her yearning for his love and attention, Mariana struggles to come to terms with her own issues. This juxtaposed with her trying to be an emotional anchor for Zoe, makes her feel depleted of her bearings. The way the author constructs this psychological arc of Mariana, intertwining it with the current sinister scenario and various characters and situations from Greek mythology, makes the book remarkable and exceptional.

The fast-paced narrative leads to a shocking climax, that’s bound to make you dizzy.

I finished this book in three days. It’s simply unputdownable!

~ JUST A GAY BOY. 😶‍🌫️