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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths - Review

Sunday, January 13, 2019

As you know, I'm a huge fan of Elly Griffiths and went in November to meet her in Derby. The Stranger Diaries was published on the day that we saw Elly, and it was obviously for sale so Elly could sign it. I got a copy for me and I also got one for my friend Laura for Christmas. Elly very nicely put a nice Christmas message in for Laura, which was really lovely of her, and indeed Laura really appreciated the message and has already read the book!

I couldn't wait to get to it either, so I picked it up in December. It's a standalone novel. Previously Elly has written the Ruth Galloway novels and the Stevens and Mephisto novels, all of which I've read and liked, so I thought I would like this one too. It's described as a bit of a gothic horror, a bit of a thriller, a bit of a crime novel. I liked how all these elements came together; I found it genuinely scary in parts and I liked the different points of view.

Okay so Clare is a teacher at a school in Sussex, a school where reclusive writer R M Holland lived. Clare is a bit of an expert in his life and most famous work, a short story set on a train called The Stranger. So when her colleague is found murdered with a line from The Stranger on a piece of paper next to her, suspicion falls on Clare. Clare keeps diaries about her life, and one day she notices some writing in her diary that isn't hers... writing that looks like it comes from the killer...

Meanwhile Detective Harbinder Kaur is looking into the crimes. I have a feeling that Elly will write another book with Harbinder as the detective; she's a likeable character in a modern police force. She has plenty of reasons to suspect Clare, or someone in Clare's family.

We also see Clare's daughter Georgia's point of view. She's fifteen and goes to the school that Clare teaches at. She has a much older boyfriend and she has three friends that she does creative writing with. Suspicion falls on these friends, too...

The setting was fantastic - I could really picture the school and everything connected to R M Holland, and I could really picture the house where Clare lived in the middle of nowhere with an abandoned factory behind. I think setting is something Elly does particularly well, and I think it always helps to immerse the reader into the narrative. I liked Clare, I liked the creepy story of The Stranger and how it was incorporated into the book. Really cleverly done and nicely woven together!

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