The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths Book Review @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

the stranger diaries

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A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Susan Hill meets Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. 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…

MY THOUGHTS

Elly Griffiths is back with a new stand-alone novel, The Stranger Diaries. I love Elly Griffiths’ writing. I’ve recently read the first two novels in her Dr Ruth Galloway series, and with all three books I have read, I have found them utterly engaging from the start. If you haven’t read any of Elly’s previous work before, this is the perfect time to start.

Her latest book had me hooked from the first page and immediately she sets the tone for what is a dark and an absorbing tale. We meet Clare Cassidy, who is a teacher at a secondary school, and who also teaches creative writing in her spare time. The school that Clare is teaching at is a Victorian mansion, once owned by RM Holland, whom Clare is currently researching and planning to write a book about. But at the beginning of the book, one of her fellow teachers, Ella, is found murdered, and she won’t be the first to die. But what is more disturbing to Clare is the haunting link the current murders have to events that took place in the time of the man she is researching.

Clare was an intriguing character from the start. The woman who has been found dead was a good friend of hers at the school and Clare becomes anxious and is determined to find out who has done this, especially when more deaths begin to occur.

There are lots of reasons which make this book compelling; the strange writing that starts appearing in Clare’s diaries, these added some really chilling moments, her research into the old owner of the house, and the characters around Clare. There were very few people in Clare’s life who I thought I could trust. This is what made this book particularly enjoyable as I tried to work out if any of them were responsible for the murders and why.

I really enjoyed reading Elly’s latest book. I hope that she will feature Detective Harbinder again as she is also a character who I really engaged with and I would really like to see her progress further. The Stranger Diaries is addictive, a thoroughly enjoyable Gothic tale. Definitely recommended.

Publisher: Quercus

Publication date: 1st November 2018

Print length: 416 pages

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The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton blog tour @AuthorSJBolton @TrapezeBooks #HeWillComeForYou

On my blog today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of Sharon Bolton’s latest thriller The Craftsman.

The Craftsman: The most chilling book you'll read this year by [Bolton, Sharon]

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Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

MY THOUGHTS

Sharon Bolton has created a belter of a thriller with her latest novel, The Craftsman. With a mixture of mystery and gothic elements, I feel that this should be real winner amongst crime lovers! I seized every opportunity I could to dive into this book! Creepy and full of suspense! I have to admit that I haven’t read any of Sharon’s previous books, but she has definitely won me over with this read, I’m sure it will win her lots of new fans!

The Craftsman opens with the funeral of convicted murderer, Larry Glassbrook, thirty years after he was brought to justice after confessing to the kidnappings of three children. Florence Lovelady has been riding on a high ever since she solved the complex case and she returns to her former home town to see his coffin being lowered into the ground. His funeral stirs old memories and we revisit the time when her home town faced a very dark time in its history. The story is set in the late 1960s and in 1999, when Florence returns to the town for Larry’s funeral, but as we return to the present, old questions about the case begin to resurface. Larry Glassbrook confessed to the crimes, it was an open and shut case, wasn’t it? It appears that The Craftsman isn’t quite ready to be laid to rest…

As we re-visit the time frame when the children disappeared, we can see the trials that Florence faces in the police force as she fights for her voice to be heard in the male dominated world. Although Sharon Bolton doesn’t play too heavily on this theme it is subtly there in the background and it was interesting to compare her situation as it was back then to how it is now when she returns to the town. The treatment she received from some of her colleagues really did make me feel quite angry and I really wanted her to get results. For a lot of the time she can only depend on her colleague Tom to help argue her case.

Another theme which fascinated me was the subject of witchcraft. As the novel opens, Sharon gives us a little background information on the Pendle Witch trials which took place in the sixteenth century. I found this really helpful in getting to know more about the backdrop of the book and already she had me wanting to find out more about how this particular theme was going to shape the rest of the story. I had to google images of Pendle Hill which is the perfect setting for this type of book.

I really enjoyed this one. Sharon Bolton has crafted a clever and fascinating tale which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Publisher: Trapeze

Publication date: 3rd May 2018 (kindle & hardcover) 18th October 2018 (paperback)

Print length: 432 pages

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#TheLingering by S.J.I. Holliday blog tour #giveaway @OrendaBooks @SJIHolliday

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lingering today, a very creepy ghost story by SJI Holliday, perfect to read at this time of year when the nights are drawing in. I feel I should warn you though, it may put you off having baths in the future. As part of the blog tour, I have one paperback copy of the book to giveaway. To enter, all you have to do is share this post on Facebook and Twitter, and let me know how much you want to read this book by commenting below, before midnight on Thursday, 15th November 2018. One winner will be drawn at random. If you’re interested in taking a look at what the novel is about, you can read the blurb and my review below. Good luck!

The Lingering by [Holliday, SJI]

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Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…
At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

MY THOUGHTS

Recently I’ve read a couple of really good ghost stories and The Lingering by SJI Holliday I think has to be the best. I was so excited to pick up a proof at the Theakston Crime Festival in Harrogate, and I wasted no time in starting it. Dark, unsettling and so, so creepy; this book and the characters within the pages will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

What I love about SJI Holliday’s writing is how she cleverly manages to weave a tale and take it in a completely unexpected direction and especially her character development is brilliant. She is a writer who is very good at her twists, and her plotting is superb.

I’ve previously read and enjoyed her Banktoun trilogy so I had high hopes for her latest book and I was captivated from the first page. We meet married couple Jack and Ali who are starting a new chapter in their lives together when they decide to sell up their home and take up residence at a self-sufficient commune. I wanted to know what had drawn them to this particular place and why they would make such a huge decision and leave the comfort of home for something that is totally different to what they’re used to. The prologue in this book teases you as you immediately get a feeling that something dark and mysterious is brooding and it sets up the journey that Ali and Jack are about to embark on. You know you are in for a spine-chilling read.

SJI Holliday weaves a crime element into her plot, and this was done to great effect. But I’m not going to talk any more about this here, you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens. The atmosphere in the book is excellent, and it brings the commune and the surrounding countryside to life. If I ever see a building remotely similar to the commune whenever I’m driving around country lanes, I think I’ll be speeding up and keeping very clear.

The Lingering is dark and atmospheric; it will linger in your mind and beware, it may give you nightmares. It is psychological suspense at its very best. You really don’t want to miss it. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 27th September 2018

Print length: 320 pages

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Lingering blog poster 2018 (1) (1)