Reviewed by Verity Wilde
Dr Maria Martinez is in prison. Convicted of murder. She says she didn’t do it and she’s fighting to clear her name. She has Asperger’s syndrome and is finding prison life hard. But are her problems all in her mind – or are the mysterious forces that she fears real and out to get her?
The back of my copy of The Spider in the Corner of the Room calls this “The first in a gripping, high concept psychological conspiracy trilogy” and it’s not wrong. I had to read it in daylight – it is so tense and atmospheric. I was pretty much constantly discombobulated – you never know who to trust or what’s really going on. This is partly because the narrative jumps around and you’re not always sure of the chronology. Then there are the gaps in Maria’s memory and her Asperger’s which affects her behaviour.
The book is told in the first person from Maria’s point of view and Nikki Owen has created a really pacey and distinctive short, sharp, stop-start style for her. Owen also does a really good job of drip-feeding you information about Maria through the book to build your understanding of her character and to create more and more layers of intrigue.
I was worried that as it’s the first part of a trilogy that I wouldn’t get enough answers to be satisfied at the end. But although there’s clearly more to know, the book stops in a logical place and doesn’t come to a jarring halt.
If you like a good, tense thriller that will play with your head then this may be for you. But read it in a nice, bright place – where no-one can creep up on you and you can’t imagine any bogeymen in dark corners!