the circle book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Solomon Lewin is a renowned psychiatrist and has recently left India to take over as chief psychiatrist at the Center for Psychological Illness in London, England. The move is a drastic one and, although his wife and children seem to have taken to the new scenery, Lewin finds himself bored and mildly unhappy in his new position.

In an attempt to spice things up, Solomon begins to look into a few of the more intriguing cases he hasn’t become acquainted with yet. He soon comes across the chart of Maryam Batool, an orphaned Pakistani woman who has been at the center for the past seven years. She came to stay at the center in 2007 after an attempted suicide following a financial crisis. Now she keeps to herself, rarely speaking, and constantly drawing one shape, a circle.

On Christmas Eve, Solomon receives an urgent phone call, insisting he come to the center immediately. Maryam has awakened from her silence and become dangerously violent. Dr Lewin heads to the center and finds himself in a bigger mess than he could have ever imagined. Now he is traipsing around the city, in the middle of the night, with a homicidal patient. The police are chasing them and a secret society seems to be keeping his family hostage.

What exactly does Maryam know that could be so very important? Is she actually suffering from amnesia or is she simply refusing to speak? Can Solomon solve the mystery before terrorists kill his family?

I had a really hard time being entertained by The Circle. It was the typical “psychological thriller” and I didn’t feel like it brought anything new to the table. It came across as very dry and textbook-like. The characters didn’t intrigue me and I had no reason to care if Solomon’s marriage was or wasn’t working out. Details were there, but they just didn’t pop out and grab me. Additionally, I felt like I could predict the storyline and had no reason to bother finishing.

Perhaps, like British comedy, this European novel doesn’t translate well to the style Americans are used to, but, on the other hand, I typically prefer Scandinavian dramas, so I’m not entirely sure. I just couldn’t get lost in the story and was almost immediately bored of the Illuminati conspiracy theory style drama before it even got started.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Mario Escobar. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.