The Stranger Diaries

The Stranger Diaries

by Elly Griffiths


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International Bestseller

"This lively whodunit keeps you guessing until the end."

“Utterly bewitching…As unforgettable as it is original.”A.J. Finn

“Goose-bump spooky, smart, and haunting…I loved this book!”Louise Penny

Death lies between the lines when the events of a dark story start coming true in this haunting modern gothic mystery, perfect for fans of Magpie Murders and The Lake House.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favorite literature.

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary:

Hallo Clare. You don’t know me.

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780358117865
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 286,725
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

ELLY GRIFFITHS is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series, and the standalone novel The Stranger Diaries. She is a recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

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The Stranger Diaries 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elly Griffiths creates characters that are so real you want to meet them in person. The mystery is complex and keeps you guessing until the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am always pleased when I don't solve the crime and finger the murderer. I'm not stumped often but I am thrilled when it happens.
Book_and_recipe_Examiner More than 1 year ago
Clare Cassidy is a teacher at an English upper level school where her daughter attends. They live on the outskirts of their small town, near an abandoned factory with their dog Herbert. Clare spends her free time researching for a biography about the mysterious R. M. Holland, who once lived in the oldest building, where she teaches some of her classes. His fictional story The Stranger is now beginning to coincide with the murder of a fellow teacher and friend of Clare’s. Then, someone else begins writing in her personal diary, and she looks suspiciously connected to all the strange, frightening things that are happening. DS Harbinder Kaur is investigating the murder case with her partner Neil. She is highly suspicious of everyone surrounding it. Kaur attended the same school herself many years ago, when she thinks she might have encountered the spirit of Holland’s late wife, who died there and is said to roam the staircase. She also knows someone who works at the school, who could give her insight into finding the killer. The Stranger Diaries is a fast-paced mystery that is difficult to put down, even when weaving among the three narratives of Clare, Harbinder, and Clare’s daughter Georgia. Each character gives a unique perspective into the case, and unveils details the others don’t know, driving the reader to solve it faster than any of them could alone. The mysterious stories by the fictional author R.M. Holland also add a creepy, almost supernatural element to this novel that increase the suspense and curiosity—what did happen to Holland’s wife, and did he have a daughter? And how are they connected to Clare and the murder? This book will keep you riveted til the end. For discussion questions, a list of similar books, and a themed recipe for Orange Tea Cookies, visit
ElleRudy More than 1 year ago
This was a really pleasant surprise! I'd never heard of Elly Griffiths before receiving this book in the mail, but it ended up being so much more than your typical boilerplate thriller. Set at a British secondary school, many of the adult characters are members of the English department, so there's several literary references sprinkled throughout. The apparent murder of a faculty member is intercut with passages from a short story, The Stranger, who's author had resided at the school, shrouded in intrigue many years prior. The Victorian gothic style of the story mirrors the events of the novel and does an excellent job of keeping the hair on your arms raised in tension. Told from the perspectives of Clare, Ella's colleague/friend; Georgia, Clare's daughter; and Harbinder, one of the investigators into Ella's death, Griffiths is skilled at switching between three distinct voices. The danger of obsession is played with and throws suspicion onto several possible suspects. Even though every person who becomes obsessed isn't a killer, the threat and excuses we use to dismiss these tendencies are contrasted with the eventual worst-case scenario. There's a lot of story worked into this mystery. I was jumping from conclusion to conclusion before the guilty party was revealed. After this one, I think I'll be checking out other Elly Griffiths books--possibly the Ruth Galloway series?
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“It’s one thing to fear a thing for yourself, another to hear it confirmed in a matter-of-fact way by a Detective Sergeant. It’s as if the angel of death has flown over the room, flapping his grisly wings.” The Stranger Diaries is the first stand-alone novel by British author, Elly Griffiths. When her good friend and colleague in the English Department of Talgarth High School is murdered, Clare Cassidy is shocked. Ella Elphick was a much-loved and respected teacher, and she can’t imagine why anyone would viciously stab her to death. Clare is determined to protect her sixteen-year-old daughter Georgia, a student of Ella’s, from exposure to this awful crime. Might Georgia, though, know more about this murder than she is admitting; perhaps even more than she realises? Herself an ex-student of Talgarth, DS Harbinder Kaur seems inexplicably suspicious of Clare, and wants to know more about a rumoured affair between Ella and the department head, but Clare is reticent. When Clare checks her personal diary from that time, she’s surprised at the emotions she recorded. But what shocks and scares her is the sentence in italics, addressed to her, that she definitely did not write. When DS Kaur reveals the text of a note left by the body, Clare, as prospective author of a biography of nineteenth-century Gothic author, R.M. Holland, recognises it as a quote from his short story, The Stranger. A practical joke in the form of a costumed dummy placed in Holland’s study (preserved in Talgarth’s attic) sets Clare’s nerves even more on edge. Readers familiar with the two (so far) series that Griffiths has written will not be one bit surprised at how well-written this piece of crime fiction is: the three narratives (Clare, Harbinder and Georgia) detail what happens after Ella is murdered (with diary entries and flashbacks to earlier events), and the overlap of these different narratives offers alternative perspectives, gradually revealing facts not initially apparent. Each revelation brings another possible suspect, until one of those too is murdered. Is life imitating art? The murders look like re-enactments of murders in R.M. Holland’s short story, The Stranger, with elements of Wilkie’s The Woman in White and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Clues are subtly inserted as the story steadily progresses, before then racing headlong to a dramatic climax. In her gripping thriller, Griffiths manages to include stabbing, garrotting and stigmata; gossip, infidelity and false alibis; a white witch, a ghost and a brave dog; ritual and symbolic artefacts. There are red herrings and not a few surprises, and even the most astute reader is likely to be kept guessing until the final chapters. Recommended! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers
Meemo_B 7 days ago
I love Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series. I love Gothic mysteries. So this was a no-brainer for me, I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I read the description. I wasn't disappointed. The creepy Gothic atmosphere was there. The mystery was there, and I didn't figure it out before it was revealed. Interesting characters, red herrings, creepy goings-on - it all kept me interested and guessing and I very much enjoyed it. My thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a copy for an unbiased review.
bookaholique 10 months ago
Clare is a divorced Mom and an English teacher. She lives with her 15 year old daught Georgie and their dog, Herbert. One of her fellow teachers is found murdered. This brings in DS Kaur and DS Winston, who are investigating the crime. Within a short period of time, another teacher is murdered. The detectives now feel the killer is someone Clare knows. Can they find the murderer before anyone else is attacked? I thoroughly enjoyed this story. On a few occasions it got spooky enough that I had to put it down when I was reading in the middle of the night. I mostly liked DS Harbinda Kaur. She has a calm way about approaching the investigation and her internal thoughts were often very funny. I was surprised when the culprit was identified. A very enjoyable read! My thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley.
Shortcake5 10 months ago
Murders are happening in the small town of Sussex all related to the old home of R.M. Holland turned Talgarth High School. Detective Sergent Harbinder Kaur is called in to solve the case revolving around Clare Cassidy. In The Stranger Diaries, we meet a whole cast of students, teachers and others who enrich this masterful telling of a murder tale fit for a fireside ghost story. The characters are well fleshed out, the communication is effortless and the not knowing who could be hanging around the corner of the wall was an anticipatory chilling feeling. I found the story of The Stranger by R.M. Holland told within The Stranger Diaries as a genius move by Ms. Griffiths. You never really knew if the story being told was prevalent to the book or not. You will have to read it to find out. I couldn't put this book down. I found it swerving and curving on who the murderer could be and never suspected who it turned out to be at the end. That is the sign of a good book. A who-done-it story within a twisted thriller how could you not like The Stranger Diaries written by Elly Griffiths? I give Stranger Diaries 5 stars for just a good old fashioned murder mystery. :)
Selena More than 1 year ago
Something strange is happening at Talgarth High School in England. English teachers are being murdered. Claire Cassidy is an English teacher at Talgarth High School. She is writing a book on R.M. Holland, the author of a short story called "The Stranger". She is having writer's block and hunting for information on Holland. Claire's best friend and colleague ends up being murdered. A hand written note with a line from Holland's short story is found next to the body. The police start their investigation. Clare, Georgie and Herbert are suddenly entangled in the murder mystery which seems to revolve around Clare. Then she discovers writing in her diary. Writing that is not hers. The writing does, however, match the handwriting on the note that was found by her friend's body. Is Claire going to be the next victim? Now, everyone is a suspect. Everyone except for Herbert. The police are trying to solve the mystery before someone else gets murdered. A very enjoyable read told by each of the main characters. Each character has their own perspective and they give insight into what each is seeing and thinking. A wonderfully, eerie kind of ghost story with lost of twists.
TUDORQUEEN More than 1 year ago
Murder mysteries aren't my usual favorite reading genre, but because of its gothic flavor and setting in England and Scotland, I took the plunge. Decades ago when Stephen King first hit the scene, I faithfully read everything he put out. I was on a horror kick for awhile there. Today my go to genres are biographies and historical fiction. Yet, this has been getting many favorable reviews on Goodreads, prompting me to see what all the bugaboo was about. Sadly, for me it didn't quite live up to the hype. However, I did enjoy this book- it just didn't wow me. The story takes place in a school that used to be on a "needs improvement" level, but has managed to elevate its rating of late. The original part of the school is old and gothic in architecture, with a new building annexed onto it. The old section of the school is legendary for its attic office belonging to the late R.M. Holland, famous for writing a horror piece called "The Stranger". The room has been maintained as it was when the celebrated author was alive. Divorced English teacher Clare Cassidy works there, but she's also writing a book about R.M. Holland. As the book begins, "The Stranger" by R.M. Holland is read, its creepy flavor accentuated by its italicized text. Indeed, this short story is sprinkled evenly throughout the book in parallel with the murders that occur. Clare has kept a diary for decades, but after a teacher friend is murdered she notices someone has written a message in her diary. This is a frightening occurrence that repeats itself after every murder. In addition, the murderer leaves post-it notes behind near its victims, their blurbs echoing a line from notable literary tomes such as "The Stranger", "The Woman in White", or Shakespeare's "The Tempest". The supporting cast of characters include Clare's teenage daughter Georgia, policewoman Harbinder Kaur, and Clare's ex-husband Simon, to name a few. I never guessed the culprit of the murders for a surprise! Thank you to the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
TheBookishHooker More than 1 year ago
Literature teacher, Clare Cassidy, is shocked and grieving when her best mate and fellow teacher, Ella, is found murdered. The only clue is a handwritten note from the killer featuring a quote from a a Gothic write, RM Holland, who Clare specializes in. When disturbing notes in Clare's personal diaries are found to have the same handwriting as the killer, Clare begins to fear for herself and her teenage daughter. Will the police find the connection before it's too late? I can some up my opinion of this book in three words: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! I was literally at the edge of my seat while reading parts of this novel. It's so gripping! And I had no clue who the killer could be. The characters were so well developed and seemed realistic, I loved the setting of the old school. It definitely lent a darker atmosphere to the novel. The addition of the short story that the quote was from was a creepy addition to the book, as well. Overall, this is another fantastic novel from Elly Griffiths and will be going on my favorites list. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for providing an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series. The eleventh book is due out next month. But! Griffiths has penned a stand alone that is an absolutely wonderful read! The Stranger Diaries.....think modern Gothic...... Clare teaches English at Talgarth High. Talgarth is also where Gothic author R.M. Holland wrote his most famous story - The Stranger. Past and present collide when a school colleague is found dead - with a line from The Stranger by the body. Griffiths opens the book with an excerpt from The Stranger - and I was hooked. Initially Clare is the lead character, but the narrative switches to DS Harbinder Kaur who is in charge of the case. And I was surprised when the narrative switched again to a character I hadn't considered playing a larger part. These switches happen numerous times, giving the reader numerous viewpoints to draw on. We are also given many suspects to choose from. (I must admit, I was surprised by the final whodunit) And then there's the option of there being something more, shall we say, otherworldly, involved. Excerpts of The Stranger continue throughout the book in addition to excerpts from Clare's diary, giving the reader more fuel for speculation. Every character is well drawn and fleshed out. DS Kaur was my favourite - I hope she might make an appearance in a future novel. "It can be a dangerous thing, reading too much." Griffiths' writing makes for addictive reading. The only danger is staying up too late reading 'just one more chapter'.
357800 More than 1 year ago
THE STRANGER DIARIES....A great old-fashioned "whodunit"....AND a wonderful gothic story within a story....entitled THE STRANGER. "If you'll permit me, said the stranger, I'd like to tell you a story. After all, it's a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we're not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening." In fact, as it turns's All Hallows' eve. THE STRANGER is a short dark story interwoven throughout the telling of Elly Griffiths' THE STRANGER DIARIES....a sinister little tale of hell club initiation night that begins to show a presence in our story. Follow English literature teacher Clare Cassidy as she researches the mysterious life of R. M. Holland and his ghost stories in this haunted murder mystery as death enters her life and someone up to no good enters her private diary. Three dubious POV's produced a bit of redundancy, but we have a wide range of interesting characters and a host of suspects for the witty Detective Sergeant Kaur to investigate. Particularly enjoyed the many literary quotes, the lovable and brave little dog Herbert....and the ghost sighting. "Hell is empty and all the devils are here."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book for people who like cozy's and tracing down history. The book is part thriller, mystery and ghost story. The book was suspenseful but I felt it should have been a little shorter; there were slightly too many subplots and tangents. I felt a novel like this should be quite fast paced. However it is a good book for people who would like a somewhat old fashioned mystery and thriller. I received a free copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
bamcooks More than 1 year ago
This is a very uniquely done mystery which revolves around a gothic horror story called The Stranger by the Victorian author R. M. Holland. Clare Cassidy teaches at the Talgarth school in Sussex, the old section of which was originally the home of Mr Holland, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of his wife who died from a fall from the staircase. The woman in white. Now someone is killing teachers at the school and using the same modus operandi as the killer in Holland's story. Will Clare be next? The horror story itself is presented in small sections and is bookended by the current mystery which is told in the first person pov of three characters: Clare herself, with some sections from her personal diary; her fifteen-year-old daughter, Georgia; and the police detective DS Harbinder Kaur. I thought the pacing was well done; the mystery kept me guessing almost to the end. It's always a challenge to figure out the whodunit before the detective! The setting was quite atmospheric, with the talk of ghosts and witchcraft. 'Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.' Of the characters, I found Harbinder to be the most interesting: she's still living at home with mum and dad at 35, avoiding their talk of marriage, not confessing that she's gay. She's sarcastic and smart, very likable. I will look forward to reading more from this author. Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this new thriller via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I'm very glad I accepted the opportunity.
eadieburke More than 1 year ago
I would like to thank the publisher, Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt and NetGalley for a free copy of this book for an honest review. Clare Cassidy is a high school English teacher at Talgarth High School which used to be the Holland House. R.M. Holland was a Gothic writer and Clare teaches a course from his famous story, "The Stranger." When Clare's fellow teacher, Ella, is found dead with a quote from "The Stranger" Clare realizes the killer is using the story as a guide to murder. Another colleague, Rick Lewis, is next found murdered similar to a character in Holland's story also with the same quote from "The Stranger" nearby. Since Clare's divorce she has written daily in her diary. She notices one day that the killer has left her a message in her dairy. DS Harbinder Kaur requests to read Clare's diaries and comes to the conclusion that Clare is the one that connects to the victims and that Clare and her daughter, Georgia, may be in danger. In the past, I have read Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series and her Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series. This new standalone Gothic mystery is one that will not disappoint. The first-person narration switches between three characters, Clare, DS Kaur, and Georgia, Clare's daughter. I found the characters, especially DS Kaur, to be very interesting. The plot was one that kept the pages turning until the very end. Hopefully, Griffiths will turn this standalone into another series. I would highly recommend this book to those who love Gothic Mysteries and I look forward to reading more of Griffiths' books in the future.
Lillian Maddocks-Cummings More than 1 year ago
Clare seems to have it all a great job at Talgarth High as a English teacher, a teenager daughter Georgie who has an older boyfriend and then there is Herbert her animal familiar. But everything has changed in their small town as another English teacher Ella has been found murdered and everyone is a suspect. Clare knows that she should have been a better friend as she hadn't treated Ella very nicely after the affair and she has kept it quiet all this time. Now the police have come to see her and she lied about anything happening on their training course away. Clare knows that the affair ended but could Rick have had anything to do with her murder as he does become a stalker after awhile but she can't see him doing it so who then? Clare has always written in her diary so she is very worried when she finds out that someone has written in it but who? She knows that she has no choice but to go to the police and now everything will be out in the open. The police know that Clare is the key to the murder but they have no solid leads as yet and it seems like the killer wants to protect Clare as another murder has taken place. Clare is in danger now but why could be doing this, what do they want from her? Will the police be able to find the killer before even more people get killed? A good read very different to Elly's other books. I was lucky enough to receive a copy via Netgalley & the publishing house in exchange for my honest review.
trutexan More than 1 year ago
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.
Katie__B More than 1 year ago
What I enjoyed most about this book was it was this interesting combination of a mystery taking place in modern day England and yet it also had this old-fashioned, gothic vibe to it. It was actually refreshing to read because this one felt more like a straightforward mystery rather than most current books in the genre that rely too heavily on insane plot twists. While this book might not have worked for me on every level, I would definitely be interested in checking out more books by the author. Clare Cassidy is a high school English teacher and mother to her teenage daughter, Georgia. Clare's specialty is on the writer R. M. Holland, most famous for his story, "The Stranger". She is shocked when she finds out one of her colleagues has been murdered, and left at the crime scene is a note with a line from "The Stranger". She becomes absolutely terrified when she notices someone has left a creepy note in her diary. Police suspect someone close to Clare might be the murderer, or Clare might have done the deed herself. I'll admit I was pretty disappointed when it turned out my guess at who the murderer was turned out to be right. I didn't think it came out of left field at all, but at least the explanation of everything wasn't extremely obvious from the get go. I get much more enjoyment out of mysteries when I am completely wrong about what happened rather than when I'm right. The narration was split among the characters of Clare, Georgia, and a female police investigator. As the reader you also get to learn more about "The Stranger" throughout the book. I did like this style of telling the story but unfortunately I just wasn't a huge fan of the characters. I found them to be rather boring. Thankfully, the mystery itself was enough to drive the story and for the most part hold my interest. Recommend if you like solid mysteries that aren't over the top. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
iiiireader More than 1 year ago
I’ve read other books by Elly Griffiths and those have been fairly straightforward mysteries and were novels in a series. With “The Stranger Diaries”, the book may be stand-alone or it may be the beginning of a series involving the police in this small town. In either case, the story is more than a mystery. It has elements of supernatural (very, very slight) and, more importantly, it is a study in human behavior. How people interact with each other and how they truly think about the other when they are alone with their diary. Clare Cassidy is a teacher at the local high school and she teaches creative writing and critical thinking. In her spare time, she is writing a book about a minor celebrated short story writer (R.M Hollander) whose home has been turned into the high school. Elements of the writer’s most famous story are interjected into the novel while we follow the path of Detective Harbinder Kaur in solving the whodunnit. The story switches from Clare to Kaur’s perspective and back and forth again repeatedly. The clues lead you to various different suspects and, for me at least, it led back to the individual I had wondered about first. I’m looking forward to more books by this author, whether in this as a new series, more new stand-alone books, or entries in her existing series. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
3900980 More than 1 year ago
The Stranger Diaries is a tale of murder, mayhem and with a ghost story thrown in for good measure! English teachers are being murdered at Talgarth High School in England. Clare Cassidy, an English teacher herself at the High School who is writing a book on Gothic writer R.M. Holland, the author of a short story entitled "The Stranger" and coincidentally the former owner of what is now the High School loves her job, her daughter Georgie and their dog Herbert, who is named after R.M. Holland's own dog. She has had a case of writer's block on her hunt for information on the reclusive Holland. Until now... Then her best friend and colleague is murdered. Beside her body is a hand written piece of paper with a line from Holland's short story. As the police begin to investigate, Clare, Georgie and even Herbert become embroiled in a murder mystery and ghost story which seems to revolve around Clare. She finds writing in her diary which is not hers, but matches the handwriting on the note found next to her friend's body. Could she be the next victim? How did the writing get there? Everyone is a suspect, (except Herbert!). As the detectives try to put the puzzle together the story races to surprising conclusion. I enjoyed the separation of sections in the book in which particular scenes are told by each of the main character's perspective which gives the reader insights into what each was thinking and seeing as different situations occur. Also, as a nice touch, Holland's short story is told in increments as the book progresses. This gives the novel an eerie, haunted feeling. A Gothic thriller, The Stranger Diaries has twists and turns and mystery. It has ghosts and even witches. I hope everyone picks this book up!
Ms-Hurst More than 1 year ago
While The Stranger Diaries has a great premise, it just never delivered for me. I think the publishers and the author for the advanced copy but I just couldn't connect with the characters or anything that was going on. Why does "gothic" sometimes mean "boring"? I read on hoping for pay off in the end, but there was none to be found.
LHill2110 More than 1 year ago
Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters 4.5/5 A fun, fast-paced, whodunit where real life begins to resemble the sinister stories taught in Clare Cassidy’s Gothic literature course. Clare specializes in RM Holland, author of the classic: The Stranger. However, when her best friend and colleague turns up dead, with a line from the story by her body, things start to get chilling. Unsure of whom she can trust, Clare turns to her diary — only to find that someone else is writing in it as well … The first person narrative alternates between Clare, her 15-year old daughter, Georgia, and Harbinder Kaur — the 35-year old, highly suspicious, Sikh, lesbian detective assigned to the case. Plenty of plot twists, good character development, and lots of fun literary references since much of the action takes place in the English department! Most of the action takes place in a small town on the Sussex Coast, but some beautiful scenes in Ullapool, Scotland as well. A standalone mystery offering from Elly Griffiths, author of the Ruth Galloway series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that until about two weeks ago that The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths wasn't on my radar but then I read my dear friend Jennifer's review on her blog and I knew it was the perfect book for me, especially after Jennifer told me that she was positive that I'd enjoy it, which of course I did! The similarities between one of the main characters, Claire Cassidy, and myself just made it impossible to not pick up the see, Claire is an English Literature teacher who specializes in teaching her favorite (fictional) gothic writer R. M. Holland and his thrilling, horror short story "The Stranger" to her class every year while I'm a university English Literature professor who specializes in teaching gothic literature. I really wished she'd been real just so we could chat over our shared love of teaching and researching gothic literature! What I don't envy (or have in common!) is how Claire almost immediately becomes the center of a murder investigation when her best friend and co-worker at Talgarth High, Ella is brutally stabbed. The killer leaves a note beside Ella's body with these words from Shakespeare's Tempest written on it: “Hell is empty"...words also quoted prominently in Holland's short story, "The Stranger" that seems to suggest the killer is tied to Claire and that life is imitating art. DS Harbinder Kaur, the detective investigating the murders, is even more certain Claire holds all the clues to the murder after Claire discovers a stranger is writing messages in her diaries; most importantly, the handwriting matches the writing left on the notes at the murder scene. Who is this stranger? Is it the killer? And what is the stranger's connection to Claire? There is some mega-nailbiting suspense as the story continues and as it does, the specter of R.M. Holland looms even more menacing than before! Excerpts from his short story "The Stranger" are interspersed throughout the book, and each one is more eerie, atmospheric, and frightful than the last, which ties in wonderfully with the chapters in the book. I could have believed he was a real writer because of his story and backstory of living in Talgarth High, the school where Claire now teaches, which is supposedly haunted by his wife's ghost. The novel is told by multiple narrators: Claire, Harbinder, and Claire's 15-year-old daughter, Georgia. Each of them gives such different and exceptional views on what is happening throughout the novel although all three were a bit unreliable at times. It doesn't matter though because Griffiths does an outstanding job making each one seem real, distinctive, and quite important to putting together this shocking mystery! By the end of the book, I really liked all three characters when I wasn't sure about them at first, so Griffiths' character development is simply amazing. The Stranger Diaries is the ideal combination of gothic horror, contemporary suspense, classic whodunit, and detective fiction. It's a dark, ominous bookish mystery since they're also a book within the book, which I loved, so I think that there's something here for every mystery lover to enjoy, especially since the writing is brilliant, immersive, evocative, with a cast of incredible characters and a plot that is spine-tingling, page-turning, and beyond clever! I'm most definitely recommending you grab a copy as soon as you can of her standalone novel The Stranger Diaries! Thank you, NetGalley for an ARC. All opinions are my own.
HomeSweetHouser More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've ready by Elly Griffiths and it won't be the last. The Stranger Diaries is an exciting book about Clare Cassidy, a high school English teacher, whose life is flipped upside down when one of her closest friends is found dead. To make matters worse, a noted is found by her body with a quote from R. M. Holland's "The Stranger," a story taught in Clare's English class every year. As the story unfolds, the killer appears to get closer and closer to Clare. But, who are they? And what do they want? I really enjoyed this book and read it really quickly. I was captivated by the writing style of Elly Griffiths and the format of the storytelling. It had a gothic quality that was lovely, similar to a book I read recently called Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb to which I also gave a positive review. The Stranger Diaries has all the potential and makings of a 5 star read. It had excitement and tension. The multiple perspective-style writing was done extremely well. It had a ghost story quality that would be perfect for a late October read. And the writing was just plain, old good! Unfortunately, in the author's quest to create a lineup of suspects and throw the reader off the murderer's trail, there were a bunch of story lines created that didn't all get closure in the end. I felt like there were a lot of loose ends left untied which is the reason I gave it 4 stars instead. All in all, it's a good story with a ton of positive qualities. The only place it fell short for me was creating too many subplots in an attempt to throw the reader off the scent and later leaving the reader wondering how those subplots were related/were relevant/ultimately turned out. -I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Elly Griffiths, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to review.-