The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths | Book Review #TheStrangerDiaries


Published by Quercus (1 November 2018)

Available to buy in Ebook, Hardback and Audiobook | Paperback (4 April 2019)

416 pages

Source: review copy provided by publisher


|   About the Book   |


A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Susan Hill meets Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. 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   |


Elly Griffiths is well known for her Ruth Galloway and Mephisto and Stephens series’ but if you’re not familiar with those, fear not, for The Stranger Diaries is a standalone.

It starts with a story from long ago, recounted by a stranger on a train at Halloween – this immediately sets the tone for a deliciously creepy and atmospheric tale.

Back to the present, teacher Clare Cassidy is writing her own book about a former horror writer called RM Holland – this name, together with some of his work, will feature heavily in this story. The school was once his home and his study, now a museum, remains untouched in the attic. There is a mystery surrounding his family and a ghostly apparition that a few people have claimed to have seen.

Clare’s life is turned upside down when her colleague and close friend Ella is found murdered. She finds herself in the middle of the investigation for various reasons, and wonders just who she can trust. None of the people surrounding her escape the fallout of Ella’s murder with suspicion falling on almost everyone.

Written from the viewpoint of three main characters, Clare, her teenage daughter Georgia and DC Harbinder Kaur, their accounts sometimes overlap, so we the other’s perception of the same events.

The Stranger Diaries is a murder mystery with a touch of the Gothic and paranormal. From the beginning, I had the feeling that the murderer was someone close by and if I’d had my wits about me, I might have realised before being told.

There were some characters that I took to straight away whilst feeling a little repulsed by others. I felt empathy for Clare even if she was a bit annoying at times and her daughter Georgia was a typical teenager, trying to keep some secrets to herself without her mother knowing everything. And as for DC Kaur – that woman deserves a series of her own. I started off not really liking her – she was ambitious and wanted to prove herself but I felt that this made her come across as quite cold; she had own her prejudices, instantly distrusting and taking a dislike to people for the most odd reasons – like the fact that one person had a suntan in October, however she won me over with her caustic comments and her dedicated determination to find out the truth.

I was in a bit of a reading slump when I started the Stranger Diaries however this was the perfect book to get me out of it. I was enthralled from the first page and this well paced and cleverly plotted story kept me turning the pages at all hours. The Halloween setting of the Holland story running alongside made for an atmospheric and chilling read. I loved it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.


My thanks to Olivia of Quercus for inviting me to take part in the tour for The Stranger Diaries.  It was a real pleasure to attend the recent Quercus event for their 2019 releases of which The Stranger Diaries featured.




|   About the Author   |


Photo Credit: Sara Reeve

WINNER OF THE 2016 CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY. Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk. The series has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her Stephens and Mephisto series is based in 1950s Brighton. She lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their two children.


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4 thoughts on “The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths | Book Review #TheStrangerDiaries”

  • I read this last weekend and loved it too. She’s such a great writer. I really enjoyed how the characters were a bit off-putting at first but gradually grew on me as I got to know them better. Didn’t spot whodunit though…

    • Yes I agree. Perhaps the only character I liked from the off was Herbert the dog! I didn’t figure out whodunnit either and I felt annoyed with myself for missing it.

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