This British debut takes place in Cambridge, or in Ariel College, to be precise – a college for the privileged few who for once get into trouble money cannot just conjure away.
Did you know that a twisted wing is a parasitical insect that takes over the abdomen of its host, e.g. a wasp? In this novel it is used as a symbol for one of the characters, and the title suits the story with all its twists and turns.
The novel begins near the end with the third murder committed by a serial killer who selects bright, female students and mutilates them horribly. What is different about the third crime is that the police find one of the male students, Nick Hardcastle, in a precarious situation with the body, and his girlfriend Olivia Corscadden next to it, too shocked to speak for weeks.
The rest of the story moves between flashbacks where we get to know the group of young students and the relations between them, and sections where we follow DCI Weathers and Matt Denison, the psychiatrist who treats Olivia during her stay in the institution Coldhill.
The academic setting is very well done by Newman who is a former Cambridge student herself. The story is exciting, and on the whole the characters are credible (though not all likeable), especially the young students. As other reviewers have mentioned, the two protagonists, Denison and Weathers, are not quite as rounded characters, and their friendship did not strike me as convincing either. Throughout their long friendship, they must have experienced the schism between Denison´s concern for his clients and Weathers´ agenda of bringing someone to trial before.
Well, one minor flaw in what is otherwise a well-written and very convincing debut. There are a few scenes which describe the mutilation of the victims, but the book as such did not strike me as off-putting or very graphic.
The book was a gift from Maxine whose review you can read here.