📚 The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

Reviewed Mar. 2019

Narrator: Andrew Wincott, Esther Wane, Sarah Feathers, Anjana Vasan
Length: 10 hours 32 minutes
Publisher: Recorded Books⎮2019

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Summary

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it 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 her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer's works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn't hers...

The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 4.25 Stars

I started The Stranger Diaries on a whim after reading the synopsis. It wasn't something that was sitting on my TBR list or on my radar at all. In fact, I've never before heard of Author Elly Griffiths, but The Stranger Diaries has certainly made me take notice.

On the night I started The Stranger Diaries, I stayed up until around 3 AM listening to it. The Gothic atmosphere was absolutely entrancing. There's nothing better than atmospheric writing and I do love a Gothic setting. Griffiths sets the scene beautifully. The setting is somehow creepy and intriguing at the same time, as are many old places. The Stranger Diaries somewhat reminded me of something written by Ruth Ware, except better.

I adored the inclusion of R.M. Holland, a historical figure Griffiths created to provide a backstory for the setting in the plot. He was so realistic that I had to check to see if he actually existed (he didn't). I kept expecting Holland to play a bigger part in the contemporary plot (instead of just inspiring it) and I was disappointed when he didn't. There are a couple of unsolved mysteries surrounding Holland at the end of the book, but I suppose that just makes it more realistic. Holland wasn't meant to be the focus of the book, just a catalyst for it.

I liked Clare Cassidy as a protagonist. I related to her and felt for her.  I especially appreciated her relationship with her rescue dog Herbert. On the other hand, Claire's daughter Georgie rather annoyed me, as teenage characters often do.

Unlike many other reviewers, I didn't have the "whodunit" figured out before hand. I'm not even sure I have it figured out now. It kind of feels like it came out of left field to me. The big reveal felt like a letdown. The first 3/4 of the book are building up this great mystery and there are several ways it could've played out, but the actual ending fell flat for me, which was especially disappointing considering how wonderfully Griffiths had set it up. But, then again, I can't complain too much about a book that had me listening until 3 AM. There's not much I would choose over sleep. I already have the first installment of Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series in my Audible basket.

Narration review: This book was beautifully narrated. It took me a while to figure out that there were three different narrators for the three different points-of-view. I was so consumed with the story that I assumed I was hearing one talented narrator voice Clare, Georgia, and Harbinder!

However, I did notice that the narrator for Georgie was sitting in a little too close to her microphone and it was picking up considerable "mouth sounds" (i.e. lipsmacking). I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it impacted my opinion of the character in some subconscious way. Other than that, this was a phenomenally produced audiobook and I wouldn't be surprised if it won an award or two. ♣︎

Let me know what you think!

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