The Stranger Diaries

The Stranger Diaries

by Elly Griffiths

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328577856
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/05/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 13,605
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

ELLY GRIFFITHS is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series. She is a recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

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The Stranger Diaries 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 10 days ago
“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-alone novel by British author, Elly Griffiths. When her good friend and colleague in the English Department of Talgarth High School is murdered, Clare Cassidy is shocked. Ella Elphick was a much-loved and respected teacher, and she can’t imagine why anyone would viciously stab her to death. Clare is determined to protect her sixteen-year-old daughter Georgia, a student of Ella’s, from exposure to this awful crime. Might Georgia, though, know more about this murder than she is admitting; perhaps even more than she realises? Herself an ex-student of Talgarth, DS Harbinder Kaur seems inexplicably suspicious of Clare, and wants to know more about a rumoured affair between Ella and the department head, but Clare is reticent. When Clare checks her personal diary from that time, she’s surprised at the emotions she recorded. But what shocks and scares her is the sentence in italics, addressed to her, that she definitely did not write. When DS Kaur reveals the text of a note left by the body, Clare, as prospective author of a biography of nineteenth-century Gothic author, R.M. Holland, recognises it as a quote from his short story, The Stranger. A practical joke in the form of a costumed dummy placed in Holland’s study (preserved in Talgarth’s attic) sets Clare’s nerves even more on edge. Readers familiar with the two (so far) series that Griffiths has written will not be one bit surprised at how well-written this piece of crime fiction is: the three narratives (Clare, Harbinder and Georgia) detail what happens after Ella is murdered (with diary entries and flashbacks to earlier events), and the overlap of these different narratives offers alternative perspectives, gradually revealing facts not initially apparent. Each revelation brings another possible suspect, until one of those too is murdered. Is life imitating art? The murders look like re-enactments of murders in R.M. Holland’s short story, The Stranger, with elements of Wilkie’s The Woman in White and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Clues are subtly inserted as the story steadily progresses, before then racing headlong to a dramatic climax. In her gripping thriller, Griffiths manages to include stabbing, garrotting and stigmata; gossip, infidelity and false alibis; a white witch, a ghost and a brave dog; ritual and symbolic artefacts. There are red herrings and not a few surprises, and even the most astute reader is likely to be kept guessing until the final chapters. Recommended! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers
trutexan 5 days ago
This is a great read for a dark and stormy night! Elly Griffiths newest novel has all the elements of a creepy gothic mystery. Set on an old school campus, the story at times reminded me of Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. The story wasn’t the same, but the author managed to capture that same atmosphere of the school and the secrets to be uncovered. Clare Cassidy, the main character, is obsessed with the life of Gothic writer RM Holland, who just happened to have a study on the top floor of one of the school buildings. Clare also teaches English with a focus on Gothic literature and is in the process of writing a book about RM Holland. Strangely enough, about the time Clare hits a roadblock in completing the book, her good friend and colleague is murdered. Harbinder Kaur, a former student turned detective, is called in to investigate. As the investigation proceeds, things escalate to a frightening level. Clare, her daughter Georgia and their faithful dog Herbert seem to be unwittingly holding the clues to the murderer. This was an engaging “whodunnit” and one that I think mystery readers will enjoy. Many thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
Katie__B 6 days ago
What I enjoyed most about this book was it was this interesting combination of a mystery taking place in modern day England and yet it also had this old-fashioned, gothic vibe to it. It was actually refreshing to read because this one felt more like a straightforward mystery rather than most current books in the genre that rely too heavily on insane plot twists. While this book might not have worked for me on every level, I would definitely be interested in checking out more books by the author. Clare Cassidy is a high school English teacher and mother to her teenage daughter, Georgia. Clare's specialty is on the writer R. M. Holland, most famous for his story, "The Stranger". She is shocked when she finds out one of her colleagues has been murdered, and left at the crime scene is a note with a line from "The Stranger". She becomes absolutely terrified when she notices someone has left a creepy note in her diary. Police suspect someone close to Clare might be the murderer, or Clare might have done the deed herself. I'll admit I was pretty disappointed when it turned out my guess at who the murderer was turned out to be right. I didn't think it came out of left field at all, but at least the explanation of everything wasn't extremely obvious from the get go. I get much more enjoyment out of mysteries when I am completely wrong about what happened rather than when I'm right. The narration was split among the characters of Clare, Georgia, and a female police investigator. As the reader you also get to learn more about "The Stranger" throughout the book. I did like this style of telling the story but unfortunately I just wasn't a huge fan of the characters. I found them to be rather boring. Thankfully, the mystery itself was enough to drive the story and for the most part hold my interest. Recommend if you like solid mysteries that aren't over the top. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
iiiireader 7 days ago
I’ve read other books by Elly Griffiths and those have been fairly straightforward mysteries and were novels in a series. With “The Stranger Diaries”, the book may be stand-alone or it may be the beginning of a series involving the police in this small town. In either case, the story is more than a mystery. It has elements of supernatural (very, very slight) and, more importantly, it is a study in human behavior. How people interact with each other and how they truly think about the other when they are alone with their diary. Clare Cassidy is a teacher at the local high school and she teaches creative writing and critical thinking. In her spare time, she is writing a book about a minor celebrated short story writer (R.M Hollander) whose home has been turned into the high school. Elements of the writer’s most famous story are interjected into the novel while we follow the path of Detective Harbinder Kaur in solving the whodunnit. The story switches from Clare to Kaur’s perspective and back and forth again repeatedly. The clues lead you to various different suspects and, for me at least, it led back to the individual I had wondered about first. I’m looking forward to more books by this author, whether in this as a new series, more new stand-alone books, or entries in her existing series. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
3900980 7 days ago
The Stranger Diaries is a tale of murder, mayhem and with a ghost story thrown in for good measure! English teachers are being murdered at Talgarth High School in England. Clare Cassidy, an English teacher herself at the High School who is writing a book on Gothic writer R.M. Holland, the author of a short story entitled "The Stranger" and coincidentally the former owner of what is now the High School loves her job, her daughter Georgie and their dog Herbert, who is named after R.M. Holland's own dog. She has had a case of writer's block on her hunt for information on the reclusive Holland. Until now... Then her best friend and colleague is murdered. Beside her body is a hand written piece of paper with a line from Holland's short story. As the police begin to investigate, Clare, Georgie and even Herbert become embroiled in a murder mystery and ghost story which seems to revolve around Clare. She finds writing in her diary which is not hers, but matches the handwriting on the note found next to her friend's body. Could she be the next victim? How did the writing get there? Everyone is a suspect, (except Herbert!). As the detectives try to put the puzzle together the story races to surprising conclusion. I enjoyed the separation of sections in the book in which particular scenes are told by each of the main character's perspective which gives the reader insights into what each was thinking and seeing as different situations occur. Also, as a nice touch, Holland's short story is told in increments as the book progresses. This gives the novel an eerie, haunted feeling. A Gothic thriller, The Stranger Diaries has twists and turns and mystery. It has ghosts and even witches. I hope everyone picks this book up!
Ms-Hurst 8 days ago
While The Stranger Diaries has a great premise, it just never delivered for me. I think the publishers and the author for the advanced copy but I just couldn't connect with the characters or anything that was going on. Why does "gothic" sometimes mean "boring"? I read on hoping for pay off in the end, but there was none to be found.
LHill2110 8 days ago
Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters 4.5/5 A fun, fast-paced, whodunit where real life begins to resemble the sinister stories taught in Clare Cassidy’s Gothic literature course. Clare specializes in RM Holland, author of the classic: The Stranger. However, when her best friend and colleague turns up dead, with a line from the story by her body, things start to get chilling. Unsure of whom she can trust, Clare turns to her diary — only to find that someone else is writing in it as well … The first person narrative alternates between Clare, her 15-year old daughter, Georgia, and Harbinder Kaur — the 35-year old, highly suspicious, Sikh, lesbian detective assigned to the case. Plenty of plot twists, good character development, and lots of fun literary references since much of the action takes place in the English department! Most of the action takes place in a small town on the Sussex Coast, but some beautiful scenes in Ullapool, Scotland as well. A standalone mystery offering from Elly Griffiths, author of the Ruth Galloway series.
Anonymous 13 days ago
Elly Griffiths creates characters that are so real you want to meet them in person. The mystery is complex and keeps you guessing until the end.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I have to admit that until about two weeks ago that The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths wasn't on my radar but then I read my dear friend Jennifer's review on her blog and I knew it was the perfect book for me, especially after Jennifer told me that she was positive that I'd enjoy it, which of course I did! The similarities between one of the main characters, Claire Cassidy, and myself just made it impossible to not pick up the book...you see, Claire is an English Literature teacher who specializes in teaching her favorite (fictional) gothic writer R. M. Holland and his thrilling, horror short story "The Stranger" to her class every year while I'm a university English Literature professor who specializes in teaching gothic literature. I really wished she'd been real just so we could chat over our shared love of teaching and researching gothic literature! What I don't envy (or have in common!) is how Claire almost immediately becomes the center of a murder investigation when her best friend and co-worker at Talgarth High, Ella is brutally stabbed. The killer leaves a note beside Ella's body with these words from Shakespeare's Tempest written on it: “Hell is empty"...words also quoted prominently in Holland's short story, "The Stranger" that seems to suggest the killer is tied to Claire and that life is imitating art. DS Harbinder Kaur, the detective investigating the murders, is even more certain Claire holds all the clues to the murder after Claire discovers a stranger is writing messages in her diaries; most importantly, the handwriting matches the writing left on the notes at the murder scene. Who is this stranger? Is it the killer? And what is the stranger's connection to Claire? There is some mega-nailbiting suspense as the story continues and as it does, the specter of R.M. Holland looms even more menacing than before! Excerpts from his short story "The Stranger" are interspersed throughout the book, and each one is more eerie, atmospheric, and frightful than the last, which ties in wonderfully with the chapters in the book. I could have believed he was a real writer because of his story and backstory of living in Talgarth High, the school where Claire now teaches, which is supposedly haunted by his wife's ghost. The novel is told by multiple narrators: Claire, Harbinder, and Claire's 15-year-old daughter, Georgia. Each of them gives such different and exceptional views on what is happening throughout the novel although all three were a bit unreliable at times. It doesn't matter though because Griffiths does an outstanding job making each one seem real, distinctive, and quite important to putting together this shocking mystery! By the end of the book, I really liked all three characters when I wasn't sure about them at first, so Griffiths' character development is simply amazing. The Stranger Diaries is the ideal combination of gothic horror, contemporary suspense, classic whodunit, and detective fiction. It's a dark, ominous bookish mystery since they're also a book within the book, which I loved, so I think that there's something here for every mystery lover to enjoy, especially since the writing is brilliant, immersive, evocative, with a cast of incredible characters and a plot that is spine-tingling, page-turning, and beyond clever! I'm most definitely recommending you grab a copy as soon as you can of her standalone novel The Stranger Diaries! Thank you, NetGalley for an ARC. All opinions are my own.
HomeSweetHouser 13 days ago
This is the first book I've ready by Elly Griffiths and it won't be the last. The Stranger Diaries is an exciting book about Clare Cassidy, a high school English teacher, whose life is flipped upside down when one of her closest friends is found dead. To make matters worse, a noted is found by her body with a quote from R. M. Holland's "The Stranger," a story taught in Clare's English class every year. As the story unfolds, the killer appears to get closer and closer to Clare. But, who are they? And what do they want? I really enjoyed this book and read it really quickly. I was captivated by the writing style of Elly Griffiths and the format of the storytelling. It had a gothic quality that was lovely, similar to a book I read recently called Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb to which I also gave a positive review. The Stranger Diaries has all the potential and makings of a 5 star read. It had excitement and tension. The multiple perspective-style writing was done extremely well. It had a ghost story quality that would be perfect for a late October read. And the writing was just plain, old good! Unfortunately, in the author's quest to create a lineup of suspects and throw the reader off the murderer's trail, there were a bunch of story lines created that didn't all get closure in the end. I felt like there were a lot of loose ends left untied which is the reason I gave it 4 stars instead. All in all, it's a good story with a ton of positive qualities. The only place it fell short for me was creating too many subplots in an attempt to throw the reader off the scent and later leaving the reader wondering how those subplots were related/were relevant/ultimately turned out. -I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Elly Griffiths, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to review.-
JeanK 13 days ago
The Stranger, a gothic tale of suspense, is one of the writings that Clare Cassidy teaches in an evening class at Talgarth High. Clare’s classes are taught in a building that was once the author’s home and has a ghost of its own. When Ella, one of Clare’s fellow teachers, is murdered, a note is left with the body containing a quote from The Stranger. Clare has kept diaries for a number of years and after Ella’s death she pulls out some of the recent ones to re-read entries dealing with her friendship with Ella. After her most recent entry someone else has written in her diary to let her know that they are watching. DS Harbinder Kaur takes an instant dislike to Clare. A former student at Talgarth, Kaur has memories of the school that are not all pleasant and she believes that Clare knows more about what has occurred than she is willing to reveal. After Clare’s discovery of the addition to her diary and the death of a second member of the Talgarth staff, Kaur requests the diaries, hoping for information that may lead to the murderer. Elly Griffiths divides her novel with scenes from The Stranger, adding to an already eerie atmosphere. As the story progresses it is told in three voices - Clare’s, Kaur’s and that of Clare’s teenage daughter Georgie, a student at Talgarth. Each character brings their own observations to the events and each brings different suspects for the reader to consider. This is a stand-alone novel from Griffiths who is the author of the popular Ruth Galloway series. It has the feel of a classic murder mystery that should appeal to fans of Agatha Christie. Mystery lovers will find enough red herrings to keep them guessing to the end. I would like to thank NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a copy of this book for my review.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I have absolutely adored Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mystery series and hope that she will continue to write many more book about Ruth, her family, colleagues and friends. Ms. Griffiths has also penned the post-war Max Mephisto series. Now, she has written her first standalone novel. I will start by saying that this atmospheric, character driven story does not disappoint. Plot: Clare is a teacher at the school where her daughter, Georgia, is a student. Harbinder is a Detective Sergeant whose alma mater is this school. When Clare's colleagues begin to die, Harbinder is assigned the investigation. The school also has close ties to the author of a very scary story. These threads intertwine to produce a suspenseful, somewhat Gothic tale. Most interesting to me in the book were the many characters and their interrelationships. There are Clare and her ex-husband, Clare and her daughter, Clare and her colleagues, Clare and Harbinder. Then there are Georgie and her parents, Georgie and her teachers, Georgie and her boyfriend, Georgie and her writing group, etc. Another feature of the novel is the offering of different points of view. The reader sees events through the eyes of Clare, Georgie and Harbinder. As in all good mysteries there are some twists. This is a novel that I definitely recommend. My favorite novels by this author are still the Ruth novels but this is worth a read for suspense lovers. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read by one of my favorite authors!
ColoradoGirl71 13 days ago
This tale gets all the points for originality and atmosphere. It has a very gothic air and feels very British to this American reader. Set in modern times, but ample references to the past with Oxford, literature, diaries, and mysterious writers. Throw in an abandoned factory, a haunted school, magic, and several murders and you’ve got a classic mystery. There are several points of view in the book which threw me at first but was a brilliant way to tell the story. How different the same events are from another perspective! We have an English teacher, Clare, and her teenage daughter, Georgia, who attends Talgarth -- the school where her mother teaches. There’s the police detective Harbinder Kaur who has her own history with the school. We have a whole host of fascinating characters that we get to know well during the chapters from their view. All throughout the book we are teased with snippets from a classic ghost story written by R.M. Holland. Clare just happens to be an expert on this writer and is writing a book about him. When life starts to mimic the story, things take a deadly turn and Kaur frantically tries to solve the case before another murder happens. This book was a fantastic surprise! I’ve never read anything by Elly Griffiths, but she has legions of fans! I now count myself in that group. This author is so talented, and I can’t wait to get my hands on her other books.
RowingRabbit 13 days ago
Elly Griffiths takes a break from her popular series to bring us a spooky stand alone. And you get 2 stories for the price of one. Clare Cassidy is a recently divorced english teacher who moved to the Sussex coast with her daughter for a fresh start. She’s working on a book about author R.M. Holland whose chilling story “The Stranger” was a one hit wonder. Teaching at Talgarth Academy is a big plus as it was once Holland’s home & his study has been perfectly preserved. Daughter Georgie has settled in & Clare quickly found a kindred spirit in Ella, a colleague at the academy. Another bonus is she doesn’t have to worry about bumping into her ex-husband & wife 2.0. Good times, right? Well….it was. Right up until Ella was murdered. What follows is a spooky story with a decidedly gothic feel. This is partly due to alternate chapters where we listen in as a stranger tells an unsettling story to a fellow traveller as their train hurtles through the night. In the present, things are equally creepy as Clare’s quiet life begins to unravel. Another body with connections to the academy is found. Frightened for herself & Georgie, Clare seeks refuge in the diary she’s been keeping for years. But it’s not long before even her private thoughts are invaded. She opens her journal one night to find someone has left her a message. “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.” Just so you know, at this point I’d be packing bags & making tracks as I’d officially be completely freaked out. Clare doesn’t have that luxury & soon finds herself the focus of an investigation led by local cops DS Harbinder Kaur & partner Neil Winston. As it all unfolds we get versions of events through multiple narrators. This didn’t always work for me as we sometimes get the same scene twice & having it retold by a different character didn’t necessarily impart anything new. However it was very effective when each character told their own story. As they reveal personal thoughts & secrets, we begin to realize some of them have hidden depths. I particularly liked spending time with Georgie. She’s a smart, intuitive young woman with more on her mind than typical teenage concerns. I enjoyed the book-within-a-book format. The stranger’s story becomes more disturbing with every chapter & this is nicely mirrored by mounting tension in Clare’s situation in the present. As you try to suss out who’s responsible, you’ll first have to decide if the killer is of the flesh & bones variety or someone a little more spectral. Happy haunting…er…hunting.
S_White_1218 13 days ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Elly Griffiths writes some great books. I love her Ruth Galloway series, and I've started her Stephens and Mephisto series (though I've got to catch up on that!). Her work always has great characters and a deep, dark mystery, and this standalone is no exception. I really enjoyed this one, maybe even more so because it was a standalone, so it felt like everyone was at risk, as opposed to a series where you know, at the very least, that the main character is pretty much safe the whole time, even when they're in "danger." The Stranger Diaries had some excellent twists and turns, multiple murders, and a very intriguing murderer reveal. I *did* guess the murderer correctly, but it was really just a whim I had that turned out to be correct. I think most people will probably be questioning up until the reveal. Highly recommended, great mystery, excellent characters, and really good atmosphere. :)