Dr. Zoe Goldman was first introduced in Sandra Block’s Little Black Lies. This debut was then followed by The Girl Without A Name. And now with The Secret Room, Zoe’s story comes to an end. While each of these books work perfectly well as stand-alone mysteries, the trilogy has a nice overall arc for its lead character, such that even though it is sad to know readers will not see Zoe again, her story has a very strong and fitting resolution.
It is impossible to deny that Sandra Block has the writing chops to craft compelling suspense tales mired in the intricacies found within the field of psychiatry. Of course, she populates her stories with intriguing central mysteries, but even the casual comments about other cases at the prison hospital are fascinating. And Zoe Goldman was born to be reader’s guide through these hallowed halls of the mind.
In The Secret Room, Zoe is facing the biggest crisis of her career. At every turn, her patients are suddenly turning up dead. Is her treatment flawed or is she helping these individuals move on to a better place? Or is something even more sinister at work within the corridors of the Buffalo Correctional Facility?
In order to save her career – and maybe her life – Zoe needs to uncover the truth. Someone knows Zoe’s darkest secrets and is not afraid to use them against the promising doctor. Throughout much of the novel, Zoe is carrying a secret so important she is unable to reveal it even to those that love and are closest to her.
Sandra Block ups the tension by interspersing vignettes about a mysterious patient and his/her interaction with someone they refer to as “The Professor.” As more and more details are uncovered, the significance of these interludes gradually becomes clear to the reader. The fact that the final reveal happens at a climatic moment is certainly no accident on the writer’s part.
Readers who are new to the series should not worry. Sandra Block expertly handles the explaining of any important past events and/or characters so well that everyone can feel as though they are understanding Zoe’s complete journey, even if this is the only book in her trilogy they ever read.
Wherever Sandra Block goes next, readers are going to follow. She is a consummate storyteller with the medical knowledge needed to craft believable mental health issues and the heart needed to bring to life characters readers grow to love and care about. The Secret Room is the perfect sendoff for Zoe Goldman, but it is only another rung on Sandra Block’s ladder to success.
Disclaimer: A print ARC of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.