EXCERPT: Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.
Someone has written in my diary. I didn’t recognize the handwriting. It was thin and spiky, written with what we used to call an italic pen. I keep thinking of that bit in I Claudius where Caligula drives his father to madness and death by, amongst other things, writing his name on the wall in tiny letters. One letter less each day until, by the time he got to the G in Germanicus, his father was dead.
Who is my Caligula?
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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 favourite 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?
MY THOUGHTS: Elly Griffiths never fails to impress me, entertain me, educate me and, in this case, make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Deliciously creepy is an apt description of The Stranger Diaries.
The story is told from multiple points of view, most notably: that of Clare, in whose diary the messages are being found; Harbinder, one of the investigating officers; and Georgia (Georgie), Clare’s teenage daughter. The narrative is also interspersed with extracts from Clare’s diary and the story The Stranger by author R.M. Holland, who used to live in the school where Clare now teaches, and on whom Clare is writing a book.
There are mysteries within mysteries, mysteries that cross the boundaries of time.
An excellent read, not to be missed. So why, you ask, only 💖💖💖💖.5 instead of the full five 💖? Two minor, and they were very minor, things irked me. The first: with the story being told from multiple points of view, we sometimes get to see the same incident again. But in one part of the book an interview is related again from another character’s point of view, word for word as it was narrated the first time. The second: As I have already said, the current story is interspersed with the story The Stranger by R. M. Holland. At the end we get the story in its entirety, not just the ending, but the whole thing again. I have to admit to skipping most of it to get to where the last extract had ended, and beginning again from there.
💖💖💖💖.5 very admiring stars
THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. Though not her first novel, The Crossing Places was her first crime novel.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2590945275
You can also read a preview of The Stranger Diaries at