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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
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The Stranger Diaries (2018)

by Elly Griffiths

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A goose-bump raising...sleep with all the lights on story. Clare Cassidy is a high school English teacher and aspiring biographer whose life is thrown into turmoil when her colleague and friend, Ella, is stabbed to death. The police are investigating but have no clear idea of who did this. Everyone at the school is suspect. The creep factor is further escalated by the knowledge that Ella’s killing appears to mirror elements of “The Stranger,” a favorite ghost story written by Victorian author R. M. Holland who is also Clare’s biographical subject To make matters more complicated he and his wife and daughter once resided in the building that is now the school where she teaches. It is said to be haunted by either the wife or the daughter. There is a side mystery told by a character that isn't really seen but leaves notes saying "Hell is empty...all the devils are here." The characters had some flaws. Clare's daughter is 15 years old but no one seems to think there is anything wrong with her boyfriend being a 21 year old bartender. Part of the police team that is investigating seems to have taken an instant dislike to Clare...but the dog is cute and we know he is innocent. I love Elly Griffiths writings and have have read all of her Ruth Galloway series thus far. This little standalone is equally as inciting. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Carol420 | Mar 18, 2019 |
I have only read one of the author's previous works and felt very neutral about it. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. So when I went into this one I didn't have particularly high expectations but was excited because of the great reviews. I was not disappointed. This is a really, really enjoyable book. Although I will say I didn't find it to be a modern day Gothic story as many readers are. When I hear Gothic I think I am expecting a very creepy read that is a bit of a slow building burn. This one was decidedly creepy - it was set in the UK, fall/winter, many parts set in the home of a Gothic writer subsequently turned into a school, and there is a ghost. But this is not a slow burn. It starts out strong and continues that pace throughout the book with murders, police investigations, gossip, affairs, and plenty of misdirection. In my mind this made the read very modern for me. But regardless, if you like a good mystery with lots of creepy goodness, read this book!! Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. ( )
  Kathl33n | Mar 7, 2019 |
I know I'm in the minority opinion here, but this was just an ok read for me. There wasn't anything especially memorable or remarkable about the writing or story. The only character that I actually liked was Harbinder and it took a long while for her to grow on me. I think what bothered me most was that the gothic elements (i.e. the mysteries surrounding R.M. Holland, The Stranger story, the white witch Mrs. Hughes & the summoning of ghosts) had nothing to do with the actual killer. I kept waiting for all of the many sub-plots to come together in some brilliantly woven, mind-blowing way and then nothing. No connection. I was very disappointed.

I received a free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  cwhisenant11 | Mar 7, 2019 |
Engaging enough and I really enjoyed Kaur's character. But Scotland was full of clichés and I'm not sure how Kaur got to Ty in the end. Kaur aside I thought that most garlicky f the female characters were quite bland. ( )
  4227melanie | Mar 5, 2019 |
This is a great read for a dark and stormy night! Elly Griffiths newest novel has all the elements of a creepy gothic mystery.

Set on an old school campus, the story at times reminded me of Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. The story wasn’t the same, but the author managed to capture that same atmosphere of the school and the secrets to be uncovered.

Clare Cassidy, the main character, is obsessed with the life of Gothic writer RM Holland, who just happened to have a study on the top floor of one of the school buildings. Clare also teaches English with a focus on Gothic literature and is in the process of writing a book about RM Holland.

Strangely enough, about the time Clare hits a roadblock in completing the book, her good friend and colleague is murdered. Harbinder Kaur, a former student turned detective, is called in to investigate. As the investigation proceeds, things escalate to a frightening level.

Clare, her daughter Georgia and their faithful dog Herbert seem to be unwittingly holding the clues to the murderer. This was an engaging “whodunnit” and one that I think mystery readers will enjoy.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review. ( )
  tamidale | Mar 4, 2019 |
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