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The Crack Magazine


The Stranger Diaries

Elly Griffiths, Quercus

Clare Cassidy is an English teacher who has a love for Victorian ghost stories, an especial favourite being ‘The Stranger’, a chiller written by (the fictional) RM Holland. She is particularly drawn to his life and works because he had his quarters in the school she now teaches at, which are largely untouched since the day he died. In fact, she is so enamoured of the author that she is currently engaged in writing his biography. Clare lives a cosy existence with her teenage daughter but their idyll is shattered somewhat when one of her colleagues is murdered in a brutal attack. The no nonsense DCI Harbinder Kaur is assigned to the case and is soon calling on Clare because an intriguing note has been left by the victim that quotes a line from Holland’s ‘The Stranger’. The author has enormous fun troweling on the gothic intrigue – we get séances, ghosts and mysterious writing appearing in diaries – and deftly switches the viewpoint between several protagonists, which makes for a wholly satisfying murder/mystery, ideal for these dark winter nights.