The Secret Room – Sandra Block

★★★

Zoe Goldman is working as a psychiatry fellow at the local correctional facility, spending her days tending to the mental health of the prisoners, ignoring the catcalls, spit and threats from the cells, and attempting to get her coin-obsessed supervisor Dr “Nowhere” to actually give her any feedback on her patients. When her patients start dying, and she starts receiving threatening text messages, Zoe becomes convinced that someone is targeting her patients to get to her, and sets out to figure out what’s going on.

This was a capable thriller, with an idiosyncratic protagonist – Zoe often works counter to her own best interests, partly because of her ADHD and OCD (she has a tendency to latch onto certain ideas and follow them doggedly, regardless of their logic, or her safety). She comes across as a very real person, with unique quirks and opinions and characteristics. Unfortunately, while her character is fleshed out, we only really see things from her perspective – we hear a lot of her inner voice – so the rest of the characters come across a bit nondescript. The one exception tot his is Sophia, her sociopath sister (who tried to murder her in book 1, but who is currently trying to win Zoe’s forgiveness).

The mystery is also not that hard to figure out – there’s a limited number of notable characters who have access to the prisoners, and most of them have no reason or motivation to be the one trying to ruin Zoe’s life. Nonetheless, the writing is entertaining enough that the slight lack-of-mystery isn’t a problem: watching Zoe think her way through things is satisfying, if at times frustrating in a “girl, what are you doing” kind of way.

Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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