The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks #mustread #recommended #TheStrangerDiaries

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Author : Elly Griffiths
Title : The Stranger Diaries
Pages : 384
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : November 1, 2018

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

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 THOUGHTS |

It’s official! Elly Griffiths can do no wrong in my eyes and has found herself a spot on my list of go-to authors. You may be familiar with Elly Griffith’s fantastic Ruth Galloway series (which I really need to get caught up on) or her equally brilliant Stephen & Mephisto series (which I also really need to get caught up on) but The Stranger Diaries is a stand-alone gothic mystery thriller type of thing and it’s bloody awesome!

I was in one of the worst reading slumps I can remember ever being in when I picked up The Stranger Diaries. However, from the minute I started reading, I didn’t look back. There is just something about Elly Griffith’s writing that completely draws me in and I was hooked from the first page, as if a spell had been cast upon me.

It all begins when Clare Cassidy’s colleague and friend, Ellie, is found murdered. Clare is a literary teacher who specialises in the works of gothic writer R.M. Holland. His story The Stranger features heavily throughout the book and often made my spine tingle. And because a line from that story is found on a note near Ellie’s body, Clare swiftly finds herself on the list of suspects.

The story is alternately told through Clare, her daughter Georgia and a detective by the name of Harbinder Kaur. Elly Griffiths manages to give all these characters incredibly distinctive voices, which I felt was particularly evident when switching from the slightly creepy The Stranger narrator to Georgia, the teenager. Harbinder is one of those characters I didn’t particularly like for the longest time. But somehow she grew on me along the way and I always love how an author manages to do that.

This gothic mystery is intensely gripping. I wouldn’t necessarily call it creepy in the OMG-I’m-so-freaked-out-I-may-wet-myself kind of way but it is rather chilling and there is a sort of threatening vibe throughout, where you feel in your bones something is coming but you’re not sure what that will be.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice to say The Stranger Diaries is brilliantly written and oozes atmosphere throughout. This story is utterly engrossing and absorbing and I devoured it in one glorious sitting. I absolutely loved this one and whatever is next from Elly Griffiths, myself and my grabby hands will be right there at the head of the queue.

The Stranger Diaries is available to buy in ebook and hardcover format!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2018

What an absolutely amazing year for books it has been! 

Just like last year, I thought splitting things up between series and stand-alones would help narrow down the list but nope. A Top 10 was never going to happen here. Despite the fact that my reading mojo was up and down like a bloody yo-yo all year, I still managed to read 250 books. Sure, that’s 50 less than last year but do I care? Clue : no, I don’t 😉

Anyway, I present to you My Top 20 Favourite (stand-alone) Reads of 2018. With apologies to the authors/books I had to drop from the list.

In no particular order, except for the Top 5, here we go!

Phoebe Locke – The Tall Man [my review]
Louise Voss – The Old You [my review]
Linwood Barclay – A Noise Downstairs [my review]
Mark Edwards – The Retreat [my review]

Ane Riel – Resin [no review]
Joanna Cannon – Three Things About Elsie [no review]
Gillian McAllister – No Further Questions [my review]
Shari Lapena – An Unwanted Guest [my review]

Lesley Kara – The Rumour [review to follow]
Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her [my review]
SJI Holliday – The Lingering [my review]
Elly Griffiths – The Stranger Diaries [review to follow]

Gill Paul – The Lost Daughter [my review]
Louise Beech – The Lion Tamer Who Lost [my review]
Rachel Rhys – Fatal Inheritance [my review]

Top 5

5. C.J. Tudor – The Chalk Man [my review]
4. Ruth Ware – The Death of Mrs Westaway [my review]
3. Liz Nugent – Skin Deep [my review]
2. Elizabeth Haynes – The Murder of Harriet Monckton [my review]

My favourite book of the year is …

I don’t think this comes as a huge surprise. When I read this back in February, I said it would take something insanely special to knock this off the top spot. Skin Deep and Harriet Monckton came awfully close but in the end, “Agatha Christie on crack” won out. [my review]

A massive thank you to all the authors, publishers and Netgalley for making 2018 so spectacular! And to you, my fellow bloggers and readers, huge thanks for the support, for visiting and for commenting! ❤️

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Elly Griffiths
Title : The Zig Zag Girl
Series : A Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #1
Pages : 352
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : July 16, 2015

aboutthebook

Brighton, 1950.

When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.

The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.

Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind.

Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in danger…

mythoughts

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Elly Griffiths’ other series featuring Ruth Galloway (So behind on that one as well. I’ve only read four 🙈) but this one is very different. I’d heard quite a lot about The Vanishing Box, the fourth book in this Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series but as always, I was compelled to start at the beginning.

When the body of a young girl is found, DI Stephens is immediately reminded of a magic trick gone wrong.  The girl’s body has been cut up into three pieces, just like the Zig Zag Girl trick. DI Stephens calls in the help of his old friend, Max Mephisto, with whom he served in the war. Max is a good old-fashioned magician who is still touring around the country from venue to venue in a world that’s constantly changing and where variety show entertainers may just be a dying breed.

Max is reluctant to help until it turns out the dead girl was known to him. When another body turns up, Stephens and Mephisto become convinced that the answer is to be found in their army days. But can they stop the killer before they strike again?

Set in 1950’s Brighton, The Zig Zag Girl is an incredibly original combination of police work with the intriguing world of magic and variety shows. Now, I did figure it out but that didn’t bother me at all. The atmosphere, the fantastic setting and the fabulously colourful and sometimes quirky characters had me completely enthralled.

This cleverly plotted and addictive story had me utterly captivated and it’s such a delight to step away from the more modern crime fiction. DI Stephens doesn’t have access to all the fancy gadgets and resources that are around these days. No smartphones, no computers, no databases. All he has is his wit and his gut instinct and nobody bats an eyelid when he pulls in an amateur to help out with his investigation.

I’m glad I have this in-built urge to start a series at the beginning, no matter how many books there are already. Granted, I don’t know how the other books progress but I feel I may not have connected to these characters the way I did if I had jumped right into book four. As it is, I’m left wanting more from both of them as I’m sure there is a lot more background to discover about Stephens and Mephisto.

Elly Griffiths’ decision to tackle something completely different sure paid off. I enjoyed this historical mystery immensely and I can’t wait to find the time to get caught up on the rest of the series.

The Zig Zag Girl is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

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Book 15 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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This Week in Books (August 8)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading

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Brighton, 1950.

When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.

The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.

Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind.

Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in danger…

The book I’m currently reading

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Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows didn’t commit.

But her husband believed the police, and took their son.

Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?

If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?

What I’m (definitely) reading next

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SOMEONE IS LIVING A LIE… BUT WHO?

Is it Lisa?
Haunted by a tragic past, all Lisa wants is a quiet life with her daughter, Ava. And when she meets a new man, things seem to be falling into place. But Lisa is hiding a secret so momentous it could shatter her entire world…

Is it Ava?
When sixteen-year-old Ava saves a young boy’s life, she becomes a local hero. But never in a million years could she have anticipated the fallout of her actions…

Is it Marilyn?
Marilyn has the perfect life. Her husband, her job, her house—she seems to have it all. But she could never admit to her best friend Lisa the lies she tells herself to get through the day…

One moment will change these three women’s lives forever. And the secrets they’ve been keeping could destroy them all.

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Have you read any of these? If not, would you like to? What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx