Publication: 1st November 2018 – Quercus
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…
If you are looking for the perfect book to give you the chills and make you check that all doors and windows are closed before getting into bed at night, then THE STRANGER DIARIES is the right book.
The story is told from three points of views, from three women I really liked. The first one is Clare Cassidy. She is an English teacher who, after her divorce, left London and moved to a small town in Sussex with her daughter. She took a job at the local comprehensive school, Talgarth High, that, in the early 1900s, was the home of R. M. Holland, a reclusive Victorian writer who is the subject of a biography Clare is writing. He wrote The Stranger, a Gothic short story that it’s at the centre of this novel. Clare’s life focuses on her daughter, her job, and the book she is writing, but it’s turned upside down when her colleague and close friend, Ella Elphick, is found murdered. That’s how she meets DS Harbinder Kaur, the second protagonist of the novel. Harbinder is in her middle-thirties, single, and she still lives with her parents. She is in charge of Ella’s case and she works relentlessly to find out the killer, especially as Clare becomes more and more involved in the case. Clare and Harbinder are completely different women, from different backgrounds and culture, and, even though at the beginning they don’t really like each other, a friendship begins between the two women as the case progresses. The third protagonist of the novel is Georgia, Clare’s fifteen-year-old daughter. Like all teenagers, she is moody, annoyed by her mother, and angry to the world, but she is also clever, intuitive, and a gifted writer.
I am a big fan of Elly Griffiths’s series featuring Dr Ruth Galloway so I was really looking forward to her stand-alone novel and I am happy to say that it went above my expectations because I was hooked from the first to the last page. Between the surprising twists and a cast of suspicious characters the suspense is always high and there are ghosts, magic, spirits, and séances that agree perfectly with the spooky and dark atmosphere that fills the pages. The plot is often interrupted by passages from Holland’s short story, The Stranger, which I found captivating, and snippets from Clare’s diaries that made the novel more gripping and sinister.
Unsurprisingly, Elly Griffiths wrote a compelling and captivating novel with a ghostly atmosphere and engaging characters and I’d like to thank Quercus for providing me with an early copy of the book.