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Monday, November 18, 2019

Deliciously Spooky Murder Mystery Enthralls and Entertains

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For the last five years, 45-year-old Clare Cassidy has been teaching English at a West Sussex high school.  One of the perks of the job is access to the historical home of R.M. Holland, a Victorian writer best known for a chilling story called "The Stranger."  An expert on the author, Clare is working on a biography of Holland in between teaching teenagers as well as an adult creative writing class.  

Everything is going along swimmingly until Clare's colleagues start dying in brutal ways that seem to echo "The Stranger."  It becomes clear that the victims were killed by someone who knew them and someone with a passion for R.M. Holland.  Desperate to figure out what is going on before she finds herself in prison for crimes she didn't commit, Clare decides to make notes about the murders in the diary she writes in regularly ... which is when she notices a message in her journal in penmanship that is decidedly not hers.  "Hello Clare," the note begins.  "You don't know me."  Spooked beyond measure, she now knows what she had only suspected before—"The Stranger" is happening right here, right now.  If Clare can't get to the bottom of the situation, hers may be the next corpse to show up in R.M. Holland's possibly (probably) haunted house ...

I enjoy Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series, so I was excited to pick up the author's newest book, The Stranger Diaries.  Although the novel has been billed as a standalone, it appears it's actually the first in a new series featuring DS Harbinder Kauer.  Sections of The Stranger Diaries are indeed narrated by Kauer, who's investigating the murders, while alternating chapters are captained by Clare and her 15-year-old daughter, Georgia.  The women are all complex and interesting, the plot is compelling, and the vibe is deliciously spooky.  Griffiths throws in twists that kept me guessing throughout, leaving me surprised by the killer's identity.  That doesn't always happen when you read as many mystery/thrillers as I do, so I'm inordinately pleased when it does!  All in all, then, I greatly enjoyed The Stranger Diaries, which kept me totally enthralled.  You better believe I'm looking forward to the next book, The Postscript Murders, which comes out next year.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, innuendo, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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