Single mother and English teacher Clare Cassidy’s days are filled with teaching classrooms full of high school students in The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. Luckily for her, she is able to devote one class a year to her specialty, the literary works of Gothic writer R.M. Holland, focusing on his most famous story, The Stranger. Clare is considered an expert on Holland and as a teacher at Talgarth High, she has access to the private quarters of Holland, who lived in part of the school during his lifetime.
Clare’s world is rocked when a close colleague is murdered and the death becomes more bizarre when a note found next to the body quotes a line from The Stranger. She is shocked when the police reveal that they suspect someone close to her. Could it be a fellow teacher? Maybe someone else who has a fixation on Holland? Prompted by the police to recall an event with the deceased teacher the summer before, Clare turns to an old diary in the hopes it will spark a remembrance that may prove helpful. Events begin to get even stranger when she begins to find writings next to her own that are in a different handwriting.
Hallo Clare. You don’t know me.
Soon thereafter another body is found, this time in Holland’s old residence in a small concealed room. The teacher’s body is found with the same note as the previous victim, an ominous sentence from The Stranger. Is Clare in danger or is she hiding something more sinister? The discovery of the bodies begins to mimic the plot from Holland’s masterpiece and everyone wonders who will be next? Will life imitate art?
The Stranger Diaries is a fabulous thriller and suspense novel with a hint of the supernatural added. The setting of Talgarth High has just enough of the eerie “haunted house” quality to make the school almost have a life of its own. If you are a fan of the mystery and suspense genre I highly recommend the latest by Elly Griffiths!