Summary and book reviews of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries

by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths X
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2019, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 1, 2019, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

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?

C H A P T E R 1

'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.

'Are you quite comfortable there? Don't worry about Herbert. He won't hurt you. It's just this weather that makes him nervous. Now, where was I? What about some brandy to keep the chill out? You don't mind a hip flask, do you?'

'Well, this is a story that actually happened. Those are the best kind, don't you think? Better still, it happened to me when I was a young man. About your age.

'I was a student at Cambridge. Studying Divinity, of course. There's no other subject, in my opinion, except possibly English Literature
. We are such stuff as dreams are made on. I'd been there for almost a term. I was a shy boy from the country and I suppose I was lonely. I wasn't one of the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Elly Griffiths has skillfully created a story within a story, and blended the two together in a natural and interesting fashion. The Stranger Diaries is a modern murder mystery featuring a ghost story and an ominous setting that builds upon the framework of the countless Gothic romance novels that came before.   (Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Full Review Members Only (627 words).

Media Reviews

BOLO Book Reviews
This meticulously structured novel features some indelible characters, a vividly-depicted setting, and a strong fair-play mystery...a delightful reading experience and one that many readers will cherish for years to come.

The Guardian (UK)
A multi-layered and splendidly creepy gothic tale...Cliffhangers and gothic tropes abound as the narrative baton is passed between Clare, her daughter Georgia and the former Talgarth pupil DS Harbinder Kaur, with Griffiths expertly ratcheting up the tension.

The Observer (UK)
Armed with an enjoyably sharp detective...Griffiths overlaps perspectives, timelines and narrators, producing a darkly funny, enjoyable mystery.

The Sunday Express (UK)
Spooky...This is written with Griffiths's usual warmth and lightness of touch but has a genuine creepiness that gets under your skin.

CrimeReads
Griffiths writes at the perfect intersection of procedural and psychological thriller, with her latest adding a strong dose of dark atmospherics to spin a truly unnerving story.

Publishers Weekly
Gripping...eerie atmosphere...aficionados of such gothic classics as Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, which the killer may have read, will find this a satisfying novel for a rainy night.

Kirkus Reviews
Griffiths, who is known for the Magic Men mysteries and the Ruth Galloway series, has written her first stand-alone novel with immensely pleasurable results.

Booklist
Starred Review. Griffiths has gifted readers with a gripping homage to the gothic novel...An entrancing literary tour de force in which Shakespeare's line, 'Hell is empty,' from The Tempest, cleverly connects past and present. Georgette Heyer fans will relish this, as will readers who enjoyed Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale? and Anthony Horowitz's Magpie Murders?.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Griffiths's ("Ruth Galloway" and "Magic Men" series) first stand-alone novel is a modern gothic that updates and plays with genre conventions to great effect. Highly recommended for fans of British mysteries and classic whodunits.

Author Blurb A.J. Finn
Utterly bewitching. This atmospheric, intricate thriller, a pitch-perfect modern Gothic, chilled my blood and warmed my heart. As unforgettable as it is original.

Author Blurb Louise Penny
Goose-bump spooky, smart, and haunting, in every sense. I loved this book! And you will too.

Author Blurb Rhys Bowen, New York Times-bestselling author of The Tuscan Child, In Farleigh Field and the Royal Spyness novels
The Stranger Diaries can be described in one word: delicious! Who could resist the gothic tale from the past, the spooky old school (so like those we all attended in England) all beautifully blended with very real and compelling characters in the present. Top marks to Miss Griffiths!

Author Blurb Flynn Berry, Edgar Award-winning author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life
The Stranger Diaries is a gripping gothic thriller, with a wry, modern tone all its own. Griffiths writes here with the same sharp, compassionate understanding of how people work that has made her Ruth Galloway books so memorable. I couldn't put it down.

Author Blurb Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth
With just the right mix of atmosphere, murder, and sleuthing The Stranger Diaries is a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging page-turner. I loved all three of the smart protagonists, each of whom added intrigue and nuance to this finely layered story.

Author Blurb Charlie Lovett, New York Times-bestselling author of The Bookman's Tale and The Lost Book of the Grail
A perfectly paced and compellingly page-turning mystery. Griffiths' use of shifting viewpoints and her pitch perfect recreation of a Victorian gothic short story woven through the narrative serve to heighten the tension in this thrilling, and often spooky, tale. The Stranger Diaries will keeping you reading late into the night. You won't want to put it down ... or turn out the light!

Author Blurb Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Stranger Diaries will have you turning pages until well past the witching hour!

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

gripping thriller
“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-...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Gothic Romance and the Rise of the Lady Sleuth

1976 cover of <i>Rebecca</i> by Daphne du Maurier published by Pan BooksGothic novels typically have a few common elements: a haunted setting, an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, supernatural (or seemingly so) occurrences, a tortured hero, a heroine in distress and high emotions. The genre's origins are generally traced back to Horace Walpole's 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, which features a medieval castle full of dark corridors, an ancient prophecy, a villainous husband and a swooning leading lady. Walpole subtitled the novel "A Gothic Story," a word with dual meanings at the time, both "barbarous" and "deriving from the Middle Ages," which was apt, as the author claimed in the ...

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