The Spider in the Corner of the Room
by Nikki Owen
Published by Harlequin (4 June 2015)
Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger's.
She is alone and in a London prison, convicted of murdering a priest.
As she is drawn into a web of international intrigue, she must fight not only to clear her name but simply to remain alive.
The Spider in the Corner of the Room was an addictive read. I thought this was going to be another thriller or crime novel, trying to establish why, how or even whether Dr Maria Martinez killed the priest. While this is a major focus of the plot, the story is far more intriguing and thought-provoking. I'm not going to give away any spoilers, so you will have to read the book to find out more about the plot. But I will say - expect the unexpected.
The highly intelligent narrator, Maria, has Asperger's and is gifted in deciphering complex patterns and codes. She is written with sensitivity and without exaggeration, making her feel very real. Maria can't 'read' people's emotions, concentrating only on the facts as she sees them, so she has difficulty knowing who to trust. This makes Maria easily manipulated and an unreliable witness. She can't remember committing the murder and is struggling to prove her innocence.
This character-driven thriller starts off slowly, but soon picks up speed as it gets under way. The well-written narrative drifts between the past (in the prison) and present (in therapy sessions). There are no clear divisions between the two time frames, but I found this easy to follow once I became used to the plot. During the book, Maria meets an interesting array of characters and, like her, I wasn't sure who she should be trusting until the final few pages.
This is the first book in a trilogy. While the mystery of the murder is resolved by the end, I felt that there is still far more to learn about Maria and her past. I look forward to the next book.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.