November 2018

Elly Griffiths - The Stranger Diaries

"I love everything about this book..."

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R M 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 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 confuses her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then, one day, she noticed some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn't hers...

Elly Griffiths is, for me, a writer who can do no wrong. Author of the contemporary Dr Ruth Galloway series and the gripping post war Mephisto and Stephens series, Elly has created a chilling gothic thriller that will stay with you long after the final page. With two contrasting series and now this original standalone, she is showing her creative genius and cementing her position as one of this country's leading crime writers.

'The Stranger Diaries' is written from the perspective of the three main characters. We see what they see and how they interpret the shocking events as they unfold. The standout character for me is Detective Harbinder Kaur who needs to have her own series - hard working, dedicated, unique and witty. All three characters are richly drawn and diverse and the interchangeable use of the first-person narrative is something only a confident author would attempt.

The story is a genuine page turner and the short story referred to throughout (the full version of which is at the end of the book) is positively chilling. This book alone proves what an immense talent Elly Griffiths is.

I love everything about this book from the creepy haunted school to Harbinder's mother's home cooking and people's obsession with Strictly Come Dancing. It's human and real and the ending in Holland's study is almost heartbreaking.

Griffiths has her own blend of storytelling that pulls you in immediately. I've enjoyed every one of her novels and from the first page I'm hooked. I used to say she is one of my favourite crime writers. Now, I'm saying Griffiths is my all-time favourite crime writer.

Reviewed by: M.W.

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