The Stranger Diaries

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The second book on my Edgar Award Nominees reading project.

Clare Calloway is a divorced English (as in subject) teacher in an English (as in Great Britain) high school. The school inhabits the old mansion of Gothic horror writer R. M. Holland; in her spare time, Clare is researching Holland's strange life, working on a book project. The school is said to be haunted by the ghost of Holland's wife, who committed suicide by throwing herself down the stairs. Ouch!

But one of Clare's friends and co-workers, Ella gets murdered. And it seems the killer has aped one of the murders in Holland's most famous story.

And then Clare finds that somebody—or something?—has been writing in her diaries: "Hallo, Clare. You don't know me." Oh oh.

The book uses multiple first-person narrators, a technique cutely adapted from Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White. In addition to Clare, there's the police Detective Sergeant assigned to the case, Harbinder Kaur, a lesbian Indian lady. And Clare's precocious daughter, Georgia. It's amusing to see how their perceptions of each other clash.

There's a lot of spookiness and dread, as appropriate for a Gothic-related novel. And a very good dog.