Review: The Stranger Diaries – Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries

The Stranger Diaries

Elly Griffiths

Hachette Australia


ISBN: 9781786487407

RRP $29.99



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…



My View:

Why is it when I read this my brain keeps shouting Agatha Christie? Is it because of the emphasis on great writing skills rather than gratuitous violence? Is it because like Christie, Elly Griffiths sprinkles little gems of hidden clues throughout the narrative yet at the end you still don’t know who did it? (Well I didn’t J )  Intelligently and succinctly written, I am again reminded of “Golden Age” type mysteries.


This is a great read that will keep you guessing to the very end – once you know the ending, maybe like me, you will look back and discover the clues that are gently hidden in plain sight. I hope you enjoy working out this puzzle – I did.




The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot) by Sophie Hannah

My suspicions have been confirmed; FictionFan writes a superb review of The Monogram Murders not written by Agatha Christie

FictionFan's Book Reviews

Poirot just knows


the monogram murdersA terrified woman bursts into the coffee house where Hercule Poirot is partaking of the best coffee in London. When Poirot tells her he is a detective, she seems tempted to share her worries but in the end tells him only that she is about to be murdered and that, once she is dead, justice will have been done. Pausing only to beg him to prevent the police from investigating, she pleads cryptically ‘Oh, please let no one open their mouths’ and flees back into the night. Meantime Mr Catchpool of Scotland Yard, who lives in the same lodging house as Poirot, has been called to the Bloxham Hotel where three guests have been found murdered. Poirot (psychically) suspects there may be a link…

In fact, I hadn’t ever before realised just how psychic Poirot was. How remiss of Ms Christie never to reveal this…

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What Do You Think Agatha Christie Fans?

A “new” Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot book coming out soon penned by Sophie Hannah.

I don’t think I will be reading this one myself but I am really interested in what fans of either Sophie Hannah or Agatha Christie think of this and what readers in general think of this latest bookish trend – continuing on a series after the original writer is dead.



Post Script: The Seance Society – Michael Nethercott

One for the lovers of Agatha Christie.

The Seance Society

Michael Nethercott

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books




It’s 1956, and Lee Plunkett has taken over the family business as a private investigator despite his reluctance to follow in his father’s footsteps. When murder intrudes on a group of ghost seekers, Lee is asked to solve the case by a cop on the verge of retirement. At the urging of his perpetual fiancée Audrey, Lee enlists the help of Mr. O’Nelligan, a scholarly Irishman with a keen eye for solving mysteries. The duo is drawn into a murder investigation involving the “Spectricator,” a machine designed to communicate with the dead. Soon, Plunkett and O’Nelligan are knee-deep in a suspect pool that includes a surly medium, a former speakeasy queen, a mysterious Spanish widow, and a whole slew of eccentric servants. Engaging, charming, and smart, The Séance Society by Michael Nethercott is a fresh take on the traditional mystery genre for readers who love original characters, witty dialogue, and a great whodunit.

My View:

This is an interesting story, written in the style of the times of the event (the 1950’s); it is genteel, polite, charming and all sleuthing is done without the benefits and gore of modern forensics.  To me this writer is paying homage to the late Agatha Christie in his writing style and plot devices; the narrative is a classic “whodunit”, those involved with the murdered man are interrogated, notes are made, the scene of the crime is reviewed and the reader is given clues as to who may have or may not have dunit. Part way through the novel one of the original suspects dies because they have somehow stumbled across the identity of the real murderer or a clue that points to his name (or at least the murderer believes this to be so and thus must silence this person) and finally the entire cast are called together at the scene of the crime, facts of the crime are explained, secrets revealed and the murderer is finally announced!  These devices are typical Christie’s style though this novel is set in America, and focuses on the American middle class, not the British.

I particularly liked the character of Mr O’Nelligan, the investigator’s associate; he is intelligent, gentle, quotes classic poetry and shows great common sense, wit and humour. He is very endearing and empathetic; his story is interesting and sad. Lee Plunkett is feisty and likable, together O’Nelligan and Plunkett make a great team.

Setting this tale in a haunted house is clever, it allows the writer to involve a variety of minor characters; various seers, psychics and other eccentrics aplenty, add to this an interesting story, with a few twists and turns and a solid likable detective team and you have a very decent read that will certainly entertain you.