By: Sandra Block
Zoe Goldman #3
Publisher: Grand Central
Publication Date: 4/18/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
Sandra Block returns following: The Girl Without a Name and Little Black Lies, with her latest Zoe Goldman installment THE SECRET ROOM — Psychologically rich full of intrigue, suspense, chills, twists, and action.
From strong imaginations, darkness, metaphors, comics, dual personalities, magic pills, obsessions, a secret room, to depersonalization. When a patient thinks they are not real, somehow like fake humans in this world.
In Little Black Lies, we met Dr. Zoe Goldman, a Yale graduate, and a psychiatry resident at a Buffalo, N.Y., hospital, where she suffers from ADHD, with a number of personal issues. She likes repairing her patients, while on probation, and continuing to struggle with the control, of her own thoughts.
Zoe was haunted by her past and discovered dark secrets and lies behind her biological mother’s death, while her adoptive mother suffered from dementia. Her last patient was connected with her past and she is still struggling with the aftermath.
In The Girl Without A Name a Jane Doe shows up at the hospital. An African American girl approximately thirteen years of age; no past, no name, no history—landing at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, NY. Zoe becomes immersed in this patient and her life. A world of fear, identity, and facades.
Presently with THE SECRET ROOM, this is Zoe’s first year as a psychiatrist in a prison facility. Forensic psychiatry fellowship. A local correctional facility where Zoe is still learning the ropes while watching her back to avoid some dangerous prisoners.
Of course, as usual, there are plenty of mentally disturbing and dangerous prisoners. From narcissistic and sociopathic behaviors, delusions, hallucinations, schizophrenia, cutting, personality disorders – fighting their devils and demons. (Plus more)
The Secret Room
“Wake up. Eat breakfast. Kill time. Eat Lunch. Kill time. Eat dinner. Kill time. Lights out. Repeat. That was my life. That would be my life, for years, too many years to come. Until I met you, Professor, and everything changed. And I knew that I could never go back to my life before you, that half a life, that living death. Never. And I would do anything it took to keep you. Anything. Even kill for you.”
Zoe’s patients are dying. While some are suicides and others possible accidents. Someone is texting and tormenting her. Is Dr. Zoe Goldman an angel of death-intentionally helping hopeless cases go to a "better place" or she is -being set up while targeting her patients?
Who is manipulating her patients? When it does not take much to push these mentally disturbed patients over the edge.
The mysterious woman in the secret room. Sprinkled throughout we hear weird X-rated thoughts and happenings about a Professor. An unhealthy obsession with her teacher.
Then there is the teenage patient, Andre who thinks his father is the devil. However, was his diagnosis correct? Why was he a different person before?
In the middle of everything, Zoe has been requested to start a research project on a new behavior technique and the Doctor wants her first patient to be her biological sister, Sofia.
Zoe’s birth mother died. She was adopted when she was three years old and Sofia was fourteen (killed their mother). Zoe had completely blocked it out from her memory. The adoptive mother tried to hide the truth from her.
Her sister was an ex-patient who also stabbed her in the neck. (Zoe is surrounded by dysfunction and drama). Has her sister really changed? Can a psychopath really ever change? Can she possibly help Zoe this time around?
Jack, their brother lost his eye when she stabbed him, who was left to fend for himself in a slew of foster homes until he found heroin and religion. (more about him here as well).
Clever plotting and extensive medical knowledge allow the author to control the story, full of suspense and enough edge to keep you glued to the pages. (with a nice balance of personal life from Zoe).
As in Block’s past books, THE SECRET ROOM is full of metaphors in relation to the concept of “rooms.” Both physical, also within our minds.
“Freud might say we have hidden rooms inside our minds that emerge in dreams or unconscious actions.”
In addition, references to dual identities throughout the book with both Zoe and her patients. Before and after. "In truth, none of us are who we seem to be. Many of us wear masks at times for one reason or another. To protect or hide behind."
I always enjoy reading the author’s work, which is thought-provoking, compelling, and leaves the reader with a strong takeaway message or question to ponder. Who am I?
Highly recommend starting with the first book to really understand the character of Zoe (she always seems to be on leave, at the end of each book) recuperating from a trauma. However, the author provides insight to get you up to speed and rest assured she will be back in full force for the next battle.
Fans of medical thrillers and authors: Tess Gerritsen, Kelly Parsons, and Michael (Daniel) Palmer will enjoy. The author is a practicing neurologist and her medical knowledge is reflective throughout. Hope to hear more from Zoe!
A special thank you to Grand Central and NetGalley for providing an early reading copy.