I decided to request this on NetGalley when I saw that it was described as “A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller… Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer”; I do love a Gothic thriller!
Clare Cassidy is a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, about whom she teaches a short course every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by the body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case. And Claire realises she is right when, after the (first) murder, she notices some other writing in her diary. Writing that isn’t hers…
I enjoyed this novel, particularly the meta narrative element of the novel. Elly Griffiths ‘quotes’ regularly from Holland’s work throughout The Stranger Diaries and in fact opens the novel with a long extract from his most famous short story, before shifting the reader cleverly into the main story arc by introducing Clare’s creative writing group deconstructing the Gothic story.
The only quibble I had was with the ‘big reveal’ – I wasn’t necessarily convinced by the murderer or his motive. However, it was a lot of fun getting to the denouement and I really enjoyed reading it.