A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?
This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy’s friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the story.
This is what Clare knows: No one else was aware of her fight with Ella. Few others have even read The Stranger. Someone has wormed their way into her life and her work. They know her darkest secrets. And they don’t mean well.
This is what the killer knows: Who will be next to die.
This suspenseful novel uses the popular style of three different viewpoints. Initially we meet Claire Cassidy, a stylish English teacher in a comprehensive school, who also teaches Creative Writing to adults during the school holidays. She is divorced but has no love interest. Her teenage daughter Georgie is the next witness to events. A likeable girl, she keeps some secrets, but Claire can be proud of her. Both women are slightly unreliable in their reports on events and both keep separate diaries. Unfortunately, Claire’s very frank diary is not as private she thinks it is.
The third viewpoint is that of DS Harbinder Kaur, an amusing, tongue-in-cheek commentator who is determined to find the murderer. For most of the plot she seems to be groping in the dark but finally she saves the day.
Alongside these accounts are sections from a Gothic novel, The Stranger by R M Holland. The old part of the school was his house and Claire is slowly writing a book about his life. I have to admit to hating Gothic novels and I disliked this part even though it is relevant to the plot. After Clare’s friend and colleague, Ella, is murdered no-one is safe but we cannot be sure who is innocent.
This novel is a curate’s egg; the characterisation is excellent and the diaries enable us to see people from different perspectives but I didn’t really care about them. The plot moves rapidly with exciting twists but this book didn’t capture my imagination in the way that Elly Griffiths’ Dr Ruth Galloway novels do. Eventually I guessed who was responsible and the final chapters seemed rushed or over edited.
My review of The Crossing Places, Elly Griffiths first Dr Ruth Galloway mystery.
The Stranger Diaries non Amazon UK