The premise of The Maidens was excellent. Beautiful young ladies murdered in a manner inspired by Ancient Greek ritual, in the picturesque setting of Oxford University, the crime investigated by a bereft widow who mourns her husband who also died mysteriously while on holiday in Greece. Alas, the story is peppered with purple prose and the plot drifts this way and that if indeed it ever existed. Who is the murderer? We are offered a choice of three suspects but after two chapters the reader no longer cares. The characters are cardboard and it is impossible to bond with any of them. The writing is abysmal. How this book won what is purported to be a major award and became a best seller is the only mystery that gives one anything to puzzle over and is the only thing that intrigued me. The author has also written another book, which I will avoid like the plague. I regret having purchased The Maidens. I must have had one glass of red wine too many when I did so.