Psychology, Conspiracy and The Secrets of London’s Financial Giants Meet in an Uncommonly Good Thriller
Maryam is a former power broker in London’s world of stock trading who “snapped” and was institutionalized years ago and has been almost forgotten by the staff at the hospital. The pressures of her high-flying lifestyle and high pressure work must have led to a breakdown and now she is in an almost catatonic state. At least that’s the official story. When she meets a brilliant new psychiatrist, Dr. Solomon Lewin, the truth of her situation gradually begins to be illimuniated. At first she will only say that she is in danger from “The Circle” and it seems that she can remember nothing more about the circumstances leading to her institutionalization. When the doctor helps her regain her memory and she is in a position to give more details about the danger she is in and who “The Circle” is, events unfold that prove her fears to be completely founded. Someone is trying to kill her because of what she knows about the financial collapse of 2008.
She and Lewin become partners in trying to understand the threat and in trying to keep Maryam from being killed by the mysterious members of the circle. Their interactions, as well as the details involving her mental illness and how she regains her memory ring very true and the different backgrounds (he a humanitarian and a Jew, she a former Muslim who gave up religion for a life of partying) create a tension that gives some of this novel its tautness.
From start to unexpected finish, the story is high-energy and needs the reader’s close attention. There is a lot going on here, including a story told from various points of view, and a lot that is at first left unsaid about the forces that threaten the patient who knows too much. It is a classic psychological thriller in the best sense of the term: one that keeps the reader guessing and eager to learn more as each new fact and twist is revealed. It is easy to imagine this novel as a film: its themes and language are cinematic and its truly surprising ending would make for a dark, disturbing film along the lines of “Shutter Island” or even “The Manchurian Candidate.” In the relationship between doctor and patient there are even elements of the classic Argentinian film “Man Facing Southeast.”
With a fine translation (from Spanish) by Gretchen Abernathy, among “The Circle’s” many virtues are interesting secondary characters, and undercurrents of the use of psychological diagnosis to silence those with uncomfortable truths. This is a book that is well worth reading for anyone who enjoys a truly dark and genuinely surprising psychological thriller about conspiracy. You will continue thinking about it long after you put it down.