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Book review: The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths


Appreciative Maroon Loris
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2019/06/20


Those of you who enjoy the cozy mystery genre will love The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. It's a modern-day equivalent of Agatha Christie. Set in an academic environment, this book will keep you guessing until the end. Teacher Clare Cassidy is shocked when her colleague is murdered. Then creepy things happen, like Claire finding notes from someone else in the diary she writes. What is going on? Who is at risk? The suspense continues all the way to the end.

What I like best about this book is that there is a story-within-a-story in it. Elly Griffiths is not the first, nor the last, writer to employ this device. There is a good reason for it: the death in the main plot seems connected to (fictional) Gothic writer R. M. Holland, whose work Clare Cassidy teaches. The reader is treated to sequential passages of an R. M. Holland short story within this book. I actually found myself enjoying that story as much or more than the actual book! It was also fascinating to see Elly Griffiths being able to write in both genres (modern cozy; scary Victorian Gothic) within one book.

The main plot of the book alternates between different character's points of view. The police detective's point of view is fascinating, even though I'm normally not a big fan of hearing the police's thoughts in the cozy mystery genre (because of fears it will turn into a police procedural). However, Elly Griffiths handles this situation beautifully, and none of Clare's suspense is lost, while adding a very human touch to the police angle. There is a good amount of humor in the writing surrounding the police detective, which makes it great to read. It remains firmly in the cozy mystery genre.


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