Elly Griffiths is well known for her Ruth Galloway series. The Stranger Diaries is a stand alone and my first book by Elly Griffiths. I read it in our Traveling Sisters reading group.
A gothic murder mystery with a modern twist, a whodunnit, and a ghost story.
The Stranger Diaries has a unique and interesting format to the story that we all loved. The story is told from different overlapping POVs, and timelines, passages from a book, a story within the story method and diary entries from one of the main characters.
We all were intrigued right from the start with this entertaining and fun story that takes place on the grounds of a school where a famous author R.M. Holland once lived. We loved the gothic tone and setting to the story and were drawn in the murder mystery and ghost story right from the start. There were some things here in this story that just didn’t work for me and a few of us just didn’t buy into. This lead to some discussion within the group and it was interesting to see how everyone reacted to these things.
The ending also left us with a few things to discuss. Some of us were shocked by whodunnit and of course even though I was questioning a few things I didn’t figure out who it was. You would think after so many thrillers my detective skills would be better. But no! The ending wrapped up quite quickly and a bit neat and we were questioning a few things about that. Leaving a few of us not buying into it and the rest not really bothered by it because of the well down gothic elements to the story. I highly recommend this one for group reads. There is plenty to talk about!
Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my copy to read and review.
Classic whodunnit, witty prose, & a spooky gothic vibe!
THE STRANGER DIARIES by ELLY GRIFFITHS is an entertaining, eerie, and gothic suspense tale that opens up with quite the hook with a creepy short darkish ghost story entitled THE STRANGER. This technique of a short story interwoven into the narrative definitely set the tone for a spooky sinister tale and immediately piqued my interest.
ELLY GRIFFITHS delivers an atmospheric, intriguing, multi-layered, complex, and well-written tale here that was uniquely formatted with a story within a story, diary entries, and multiple character points of view. Throughout the book we get these little snippets of R.M. Holland’s THE STRANGER interwoven into the narrative to rattle our minds and then in the end we are awarded with the whole story. I absolutely loved this technique and thought it was quite the clever move on the authors part to make this quite the page-turner.
So I have been trying really hard not to be an armchair detective and just let the story guide and take me there without trying to guess the who and why. I will say that I did have an inkling of the who but would have never of guessed the motivation behind the why though. The motive did leave me feeling a little bit blasé and underwhelmed though but I do think it was a fitting development. I just would have liked maybe a different avenue explored there but there were quite a few appealing and delicious aspects to this storyline that I thoroughly enjoyed and gobbled right up. The haunted old school, a ghost sighting, witchcraft, spooky gothic vibe, story within a story (that mimics the modern day story), suspenseful murder mystery, and unreliable narrators. Would highly recommend!
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Elly Griffiths for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
This tale gets all the points for originality and atmosphere. It has a very gothic air and feels very British to this American reader. Set in modern times, but ample references to the past with Oxford, literature, diaries, and mysterious writers. Throw in an abandoned factory, a haunted school, magic, and several murders and you’ve got a classic mystery.
All throughout the book we are teased with snippets from a classic ghost story written by R.M. Holland. Clare just happens to be an expert on this writer and is writing a book about him. When life starts to mimic the story, things take a deadly turn and Kaur frantically tries to solve the case before another murder happens.
I was so surprised who the killer was and I never suspected the killer. I didn’t think the killer has a strong motive. It just wasn’t good enough. I thought the plot was great and loved everything else about this book.
I just loved the characters. I loved Clare and her teenage daughter and I loved the dog Herbert and thought he was adorable. My favorite character was Byrony Hughes. I thought her character was done so well.
There is an eerie feel to the book, as more and more things happen that allude to Holland and his writings, which is fun in a modern day novel. I enjoyed reading from the POV of all three characters, the snobbish, beautiful Clare, the too mature for her age, Georgia, and the hard nosed, sarcastic and witty DS Kaur. Reading the events of the story from three different perspectives often changed the who and how of the story for me and even though I briefly picked the right person for the murderer, I was led astray by new events and seeing the events from a different view point. . And then there was the short story within this novel that added to the mysterious and gothic feel of the book.
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