11 November 2018

The Stranger Diaries


By Elly Griffiths

Paperback 384 pages
Publisher Quercus (4th April 2019)
ISBN-13 978-1786487414

"Elly Griffiths writes with a sharp, smart eye and great elegance. This novel is compelling, intelligent and increasingly mesmerising." Peter James

📕My Review

I was really looking forward to The Stranger Diaries, a standalone novel by Elly Griffiths. I've heard only good things about the author but haven't yet managed to read any of her acclaimed Dr Ruth Galloway or Stephens and Mephisto series despite having a couple on my bookshelves (I promise to read them soon).

The Stranger Diaries introduces schoolteacher Clare, who is writing a book about Gothic author RM Holland. Her life begins to imitate fiction when a colleague is brutally murdered and a line from one of RM Holland's short stories is found beside the body.

When Clare writes about the tragedy in her private diary, she's shocked to find someone else has written in there too. Not recognising the handwriting, she realises the murderer must be someone close to her. Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur believes Clare's family is now in imminent danger.

This book grabbed me from the get-go with its creepy Gothic undertones. I loved the contemporary setting with references to the past through RM Holland's storytelling. I thought the plot was highly original, with plenty of threads adding to the excitement. It's told from multiple viewpoints, which isn't something I'm overly fond of, but in this case I thought it worked well.

It was an enjoyable, if somewhat implausible, read. Startling errors by the police - their lack of basic research - seemed to prolong the investigation for the sake of the story. I really hope they're a little more thorough in real life!

Overall, it was entertaining and very well written. Yes, I did guess who the murderer was quite early on (I've been watching too many episodes of Vera on television) but the motive had me completely baffled.   

Book Source: Review copy from the publisher

Other reviews:
The Crossing Places

📗The Blurb

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare's life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer's works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn't hers...

📘The Author

Elly Griffiths was born in London. The inpsiration for her books about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway came from her husband who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist. Elly lives near Brighton but often spends holidays on the wild Norfolk coast. She has two children and a cat.

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