5 / 5 Stars
An eerie, cleverly written whodunnit - very enjoyable!
It's always a pleasure when I dive into a book with no preconceptions and am pleasantly enthralled by what lies within! I had no idea what sort of story would be, but right from the start, became swiftly engrossed in it.
Clare Cassidy is an attractive middle-aged woman - working at a school as a teacher, with a teenage daughter called Georgia. The school happens to have an interesting history; it was the previous home of a writer - the author of The Stranger, a story that has a lot to do with the forthcoming events...
People start being murdered, one by one. Clare is a suspect, as are several other people. The only peculiar thing is... who is leaving notes in Clare's diary, and are they responsible for the sinister goings-on?
Right from the start, I felt that Elly Griffiths established herself as a very confident storyteller - the leap from 'Victorian gothic story' to modern day was very skilfully done; it threw me completely, but in a good way. I also liked the multiple perspectives; with the narrative continually shifting from Clare to Harbinder (the detective working the case), then on to Georgia, the daughter.
It was quite slow-burning, but I felt that gave the author the golden opportunity to build on the atmosphere and growing sense of dread. The ending was perhaps a little less the glorious reveal-all that I'd hoped for; but it worked - it certainly didn't leave me throwing the book down and declaring that it didn't make sense (which is what usually happens when I read books like this!).
Another thing that I think is worthy of note is the author's highly adept way of addressing people's preconceived notions about other people. For example, Clare believes her daughter to be a fairly typical teen; but when we experience Georgia's perspective, we realise she's anything but. We also see Clare through Harbinder's eyes - previously, she'd been quite a sympathetic character, but according to the detective, she was a stuck-up, manipulative, over-privileged woman. Clever!
Overall, a beautifully written, skilful book, very good stuff indeed.