Review of AUDIOBOOK The Stranger Diaries – Book 1 of the Harbinder Kaur series by Elly Griffiths #BrainfluffAUDIOBOOKreview #TheStrangerDiariesbookreview

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I am a fan of Griffiths’ writing – see my reviews of The Crossing Places, The Janus Stone and A Room Full of Bones, so I was delighted to be approved for an arc of The Postscript Murders – and a bit shocked to discover that it was the second book in the series – how come I had missed the first book? So I decided to get hold of the Audible version to listen to while away in Bexhill.

BLURB: 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…

REVIEW: I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to a full ensemble cast perform a book since listening to the audiobook of the Radio 4 dramatisations in Poirot’s Finest Cases. So I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy this treatment. In the event, it turned out to be a solid joy. This murder revolves around a rather creepy story by the fictional writer R.M. Holland. The English teacher at the heart of this mystery is in the process of writing Holland’s biography and throughout the murder mystery, short extracts from Holland’s famous short story keep appearing, after having started the book – and then at the end, we get the full story, right to the chilling ending. As well as attempting to write Holland’s biography, Clare keeps a daily diary. So the narrative bounces between Clare’s diary; Harbinder Kaur, Griffiths’ latest detective; and Georgia, Clare’s teenage daughter.

I always enjoy first person viewpoint and Griffiths does a fine job of dropping in all sorts of little details. There are regular shafts of dark humour running through this one, much of it provided by Harbinder, who is a feisty character with decided views about everything. Griffiths once more provides an interesting protagonist – a gay, British-born Asian detective in her thirties who lives at home with her parents in Shoreham. It was a pleasure to hear details mentioned that I know well, given that I don’t live far from the area. As ever, this being Griffiths, the landscape contributes to the overall tone of the book, particularly the deserted cement works, which actually does exist.

This mystery moved along at a good clip, with plenty of possible suspects being produced and all sorts of twists along the way. There are definite creepy moments that are well evoked, though this isn’t overly gory, or too gritty. It is a contemporary murder mystery with a strong literary theme throughout, flashes of humour and genuinely tense situations. The denouement worked well, and I certainly didn’t work out who the murderer actually is – in fact I spent about a third of the novel rather desperately hoping that a certain character wouldn’t turn out to be the murderer, as that would have ruined it for me. Thankfully, it wasn’t them!

This was a perfect mix of murder mystery tension, enjoyable characters, strong landscape and plot twists. Highly recommended for fans of Agatha Christie, who would like to read something more contemporary – and this particular edition does a brilliant job of bringing those characters to life.
10/10

15 responses »

  1. This sounds so atmospheric, and its nice to read stories that have settings you’re familiar with. I always like those a little more because of that fact😁

  2. As far as I know, there are not many audiobooks narrated by an ensemble cast, and I think this might make the story sound like those radio dramas of old, adding many nuanced layers to what sounds like a great story. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Oh I’m glad this was such a hit with you. I just got this as an audible daily deal or something. I’ve read one of her other books which was a total mind blowup. I didn’t read all the review because I prefer not to be spoiled. I’m sure you wrote an excellent review.

    • This is great – and my nod to Halloween. I love the humour that surfaces at times throughout. Harbinder is a lovely protagonist, and Griffiths has done a fabulous job on depicting her:)

  4. Wonderful review Sarah. I am excited to hear that it is an ensemble cast for the audiobook. It is in my download queue, I hope to get to it in the new year.

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