This was a good solid story with lots of interesting people, places and situations.
I enjoyed the history of the school and its students, lots of twists, turns and really!-Did that just happen moments.
Good story, thought it would be a little creepier than it actually is, but still a good story. Takes a while to get to 'like' some of the characters.
Being a fan of the Ruth Galloway series, I was looking forward to a standalone novel by Griffiths. The book kept me on edge, wanting to race through the pages and read late into the night to discover 'who done it'.
Loved the connections to English lit....The Tempest, and Woman in White as well as the gothic short story 'The Stranger' by fictional author R. M. Holland who Clare, the main character, is researching in order to write his autobiography and investigate mysteries surrounding his wife and daughter Mariana.
Clare's best friend, fellow English teacher, Ella, who also teaches where Clare's daughter attends high school, becomes the first victim. Relationships within the English Dept staff and administrators become a focus for the police investigation.
"Holland House", where the 'author' and his family had lived, remains an active building for the high school; now housing the school library, a few classrooms, offices and the museum for Holland on the uppermost floor which was his library and writing studio.
Through much of the book I thought I would be giving this novel 5 stars which is rare for me, but the solution to the murders at the end was a bit too obvious as I had guessed it early on while thinking I was wrong about the perpetrator......
A good read! Probably says something that I stormed through it in a couple of days -- 8/10 hours "eyes to page" reading time, at most! I thought her pacing was particularly skilful -- alternating between the POVs of Clare, DI Kour and Clare's daughter Georgia, was a good way of keeping readers on their toes, and providing a fresh, unsettling perspective on both the creepy events at Talgarth High School, and the characters.
This is my first novel by Elly Griffiths, but I'm looking forward to more
I've been a passionate Elly Griffiths fan since her first Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Roads. I also have a long-lived fondness for Gothic novels with their creepy old houses and stalwart heroines defying the odds to uncover old secrets. When I discovered that Griffiths had written a Gothic novel, there was practically singing and dancing in the street. Once I'd turned the last page of The Stranger Diaries, I almost went outside for an encore jig.
The story is told in three distinct and compelling voices: the voice of Clare herself, the voice of her teenage daughter Georgie, and the voice of Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur. Woven throughout the chapters are portions of Holland's short story, "The Stranger" and passages from Clare's diaries. The differing viewpoints work together extremely well, due in part to the fact that you get to see what each one thinks of the other. For example, Georgie is much more aware than her mother Clare realizes, and Harbinder is packed to the gunnels with pre-conceived notions... and anger.
In fact, Harbinder could be considered the most fascinating character in the book; she certainly received the strongest reaction from me. Her prejudice and her anger made me want to slap her a time or two, but it also made me want to know what had happened to make her so bitter. Yes, Harbinder's evolution throughout The Stranger Diaries is one of its greatest pleasures.
Although there is often humor due to the differing viewpoints, Griffiths skillfully keeps building the suspense. There is more than one mystery to The Stranger Diaries. Yes, we have a murderer on the loose, but there is also the century-old mystery of the identity of R.M. Holland's Mariana. Holland keeps mentioning her in his letters, but... who is she? The solutions to both mysteries are excellent. I didn't deduce the identity of the killer until mere nanoseconds before the official reveal, and the unveiling of the mysterious Mariana made me laugh and smile.
If you're in the mood to spend a few hours thoroughly enjoying yourself, I know just what you can do-- pick up a copy of Elly Griffiths' The Stranger Diaries. I sincerely hope there's another Gothic novel in this talented writer's future.
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 & 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.