As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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‘The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen
Published by Harlequin
Mira, 6 July 2015. ISBN: 978-1-848-45373-9 (PB)
This complex debut thriller starts with an apparently simple premise: a
highly qualified plastic surgeon finds herself in prison, convicted of a murder
she has no memory of, but is sure she did not commit. To add an extra layer of
interest, Maria Martinez suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, which inhibits her
understanding of other people’s emotions and prevents her expressing her own.
An intricate structure takes
the reader back and forth in time, introducing several different sets of
characters, in a way which becomes increasingly confusing and disorientating.
It took me a while to realize that this was deliberate, and is intended to
mirror what is going on inside Maria’s head. She doesn’t know what is real and
what is the product of her tortured mind. Did she really commit the murder, or
has she been framed? Will she be able to prove her innocence? Are there MI5
agents inside the prison, or did she imagine them?Are the contents of her precious notebook
meaningless scribbles, or is there a pattern only she can discern?
And above all, who out of all
the people she encounters can she really trust?
Nikki Owen has set herself a
huge challenge for her first novel, and she rises to it with a skill worthy of
a more experienced writer. She creates vivid characters – no mean feat, since
they are all presented through the prism of Maria’s damaged emotional vision.
Maria’s surroundings, both in the prison and out of it, have an almost tactile
reality; a scene in an interview room which appears to be made entirely of
sweets is especially memorable. And though the plot is many-stranded and
labyrinthine, everything does eventually come together in an explosive ending.
What little I know about
Asperger’s Syndrome is largely derived from other fictional depictions of it,
so it is difficult to judge whether this portrayal of a protagonist who lives
with it is successful, but Owen appears to have researched the subject, and
Maria certainly comes across with often painful clarity.
The Spider in the Corner
of the Room isn’t an easy read; that
sense of disorientation persists through much of the narrative as it switches
from one location to another and from time frame to time frame. But stay with
it; it’s worth the effort.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Nikki Owenis an award-winning writer and columnist. Previously,
Nikki was a marketing consultant and University teaching fellow before turning
to writing full time. As part of her degree, she studied at the acclaimed
University of Salamanca - the same city where her protagonist of The Spider in
the Corner of the Room, Dr Maria Martinez, hails from. The Spider in the Corner of the Room is Nikki's debut
international novel - the first in a trilogy - and will be published in several
languages. In 2014, the trilogy was optioned by NBC Universal Television for a
one-hour returnable TV series.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.