The Stranger Diaries – Elly Griffiths

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*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley, with thanks to the author and publishers.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

 

stranger diaries 51d7PIWK-mLBlurb:   A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Susan Hill meets Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. 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…

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

It’s a skilful blend of psychological thriller, murder mystery and Gothic ghost story; what you might get if you mixed The Woman in BlackGone Girl  and P. D. James.  The action ticks along at a brisk pace and the scattered clues are sufficiently obscure that I was kept guessing right to the finale.

The tale is told from the perspective of three main female characters:  Clare Cassidy, creative writing teacher and the centrifuge round which all the action appears to spin; her teenage daughter, Georgia, dabbling in witchcraft, writing and romance; and DS Harbinder Kaur, police investigator, cynic and family woman.

The story mostly takes the form of first person narrative, showing us diary entries and inner thoughts, interspersed with excerpts from a fictional ghost story which seems to creepily intrude into and mirror the current events.  The point is clearly, yet subtly, made that the narrative may be unreliable, even as it perfectly represents the character’s true thoughts – one example being Clare’s repeated insistence that Georgie has no interest in books, reading or writing, whilst Georgia’s own perspective shows us the opposite.

Characterisation throughout the novel felt natural and realistic; especially in the varying depictions of collegial, romantic and familial relationships.  My personal favourite was the glimpses into the Kaur’s family life and I would love to see more from all of them, but especially her mother!

Clare was an interesting main character, as it was clear that what she says is not always what she thinks, and what she thinks can change dramatically from moment to moment.  There was also a cool detachment to her, even in her grief for someone supposedly ‘close’ to her, which made it difficult for me to empathise with her as much as the other characters.  In fact, she was frequently top of my suspect list!

I would definitely recommend this for fans of murder mysteries, who fancy the idea of a Gothic atmosphere in a modern setting.  I will be on the lookout for a sequel, and I note that the author has already written a couple of other detective series, so I’ll be checking those out too and will you know…!

 

 

Leaves gust across the car park and, following their progress, I see what I should have noticed earlier: a strange car with two people sitting inside it.  There’s nothing particularly odd about this.  This is a school, after all, despite it being half-term.  Visitors are not entirely unexpected.  They could even be staff members, coming in to prepare their classrooms and complete their planning for next week.  But there’s something about the car, and the people inside it, that makes me feel uneasy.  It’s an unremarkable grey vehicle – I’m useless at cars but Simon would know the make – something solid and workmanlike, the sort of thing a mini-cab driver would use.  But why are its occupants just sitting there?  I can’t see their faces but they are both dressed in dark clothes and look, like the car itself, somehow both prosaic and menacing.
It’s almost as if I am expecting a summons of some kind, so I’m not really surprised when my phone buzzes.  I see it’s Rick Lewis, my head of department.
‘Clare,’ he says, ‘I’ve got some terrible news.’

– Elly Griffiths, The Stranger Diaries

 

 

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Find more from Elly Griffiths at her website here or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.pro_reader.png

The Stranger Diaries is available on Amazon right now!

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “The Stranger Diaries – Elly Griffiths

    1. Yes it’s a really good mixture of three of my favourite genres. Do come back and let me know what you think of it!

      Liked by 1 person

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