Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favorite literature. To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: Hallo Clare. You don’t know me. Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?
Imagine you keep a diary. And you open it. And you find handwriting that isn’t yours. I don’t know about you but that would creep me the hell out! Especially if my best friend had just been found murdered. Especially if the police were convinced I knew the killer and that they’re the one writing in my diary. But who has access? Who has motive? It goes without saying that diaries are used for ventilating, for working through feelings, for getting over the things and people that peeved you during the day. So what happens when someone reads your deepest darkest feelings and decides to act on them?This is an intricately woven and very atmospheric psychological thriller with a gothic undertone. It drops hints but they are so subtle you don’t notice them (well I didn’t anyway). The story is told from the viewpoint of Clare, her daughter Georgia and Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur, all three of them strong and interesting women, and well-developed characters: the divorced English teacher dipping her toe in the dating pool water, the spiritual teenager who’s wise before her years, the gay Indian women with the snarky sense of humour, I loved them all. And Herbert, the dog, I mean who could not love heroic Herbert?! Interlacing with current events is the story of The Stranger.The statement most often made about thrillers must be: it keeps you guessing until the end. Well guess what? This one did keep me guessing until the end! I made my final guess at 93% in, right before the big reveal, and nailed it, and I’ve never been so happy to be right! Okay, admittedly, I think we’ve established before that my sleuthing skills might be somewhat lacking, but regardless of your getting the perp right, The Stranger Diaries is not to be missed!
Highly recommended, especially if you like a gothic vibe to your psychological thrillers
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.