Cover Image: The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

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Member Reviews

This excellent story begins in the elegant reading room of the Boston Public Library where four strangers are working and are interrupted by a blood-curdling scream. This event brings them together and they become friends although unbeknownst to the others one is a murderer. . The main character is Winifred (Freddie) who is a young Australian author in Boston on a prestigious writing fellowship and it is through her eyes that we watch the story unfold. In reality it is a story within a story and it is riveting. It is the mystery with Freddie and her friends and it is the story of thefictitious Australian author of the mystery who is writing with the assistance of an online author friend in Boston who helps with the local details. It is also a very interesting look at the writing process. It is intricately plotted. After I finished I went back to the beginning to find the clues the excellent Sulari Gentill left and I wound up reading the entire book again. It is very good book. I recommend reading the author's notes after where she talks about writing in the pandemic.
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Not only is this a detective fiction, it's a meta-narrative about detective fiction, writing, race, and COVID. Keeps you on your toes from the jump and doesn't let go until the end. I like the conversations that Gentill is having with herself in the chapter closure notes--it allows back-and-forth with a hypothetical reader about all sorts of topics you'd expect to be subtext. Smartly written and gripping.
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I usually don't pick up books whose plot is a story-within-a story, but wow! I am glad that I took a chance. I really enjoyed this novel. The mystery/creep factor increased with every chapter. Loved it!
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The Woman In The Library is a stand-alone novel by award-winning Australian author, Sulari Gentill. Aspiring author Leo Johnson, whose opus has now attracted publisher rejections in double figures, sits in Boston Public Library’s reading room, awaiting inspiration from his uncooperative muse. His Australian correspondent, best-selling author, Hannah Tigone, takes his emailed description and incorporates it into her new novel, sending Leo chapters as they are written. Leo enthusiastically offers comments, culture and location tips, crime-scene photos, plot suggestions, and other literary feedback.

Aspiring mystery author, Winifred Kincaid (Freddie), taking advantage of her Marriot Fellowship, sits in Boston Public Library’s reading room, subtly (she thinks) examining her table neighbours, noting their descriptions and giving them tentative titles in the novel she would write about them. The silence of this private study of Freud Girl (liberally tattooed, psychology student?), Heroic Chin (Harvard law student?) and Handsome Man (dark-haired, dark-eyed classic beauty, a writer?) is suddenly broken by a piercing scream. In the immediate aftermath, four strangers become friends.

When the body of a woman is later found in a nearby library gallery room, the four speculate about the murder, curious to know more but, it seems, some of them are omitting relevant facts and keeping secrets. And the drama doesn’t end there: one of their number is mugged, another injured in an altercation with a homeless man, cell phones go missing, creepy messages are received, a food hamper mysteriously appears, someone’s mother is attacked and someone else dies.

This novel is very cleverly constructed: chapters of Hannah’s fictional murder mystery alternate with Leo’s emailed input. Hannah sometimes incorporates Leo’s feedback into ensuing chapters, and the story she creates is thoroughly gripping, with more than enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing right up to the thrilling climax. From his emails, Leo initially seems earnest and extremely thorough, but as the story advances, Hannah is probably grateful for the restrictions COVID has imposed on international travel.

The concept of a story within a story keeps the reader on their toes, and it’s easy to be thoroughly absorbed in Hannah’s story until Leo’s emails remind the reader it is fiction. But of course, it’s all fiction. And while one murderer might be an obvious pick, even the most astute reader is unlikely to settle upon the other. 

This format does give the reader a peek into the world of the writer, and what needs to be considered and researched when creating a believable work of fiction. Smart and funny, this is murder mystery at its most entertaining.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press.
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I received this ARC via Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press, in return for an honest review. This is an ‘out of the normal’ writing style with two stories intertwined and I consider it more of a psychological mystery than a cozy.  An Australian author named Hannah is communicating with an American fan, Joe, via email.  He’s giving her advice on how to adapt her work for American audiences with language change suggestions.  But not all is as it seems with Joe and Hannah slowly uncovers disturbing secrets.  The second story is about four people who share a table at the Reading Room of the Boston Public Library when a scream shatters the silence.  Forced to remain in place, they build a connection that develops into friendship after they’re allowed to leave the building.  The next day, the body of a female reporter is discovered.  Each of these four people have secrets as well; are they willing to kill to keep them private?  
This was an interesting story and the intertwining of the two storylines moved it well, once I understood the format.
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Hannah is the creator of mystery writer Winifred (Freddie) Kincaid, Freddie’s love interest (Cain), Marigold, and Whit, but, more importantly, she is the chilling obsession of an out of control, wannabe published author. Sound confusing? It’s a tough act worth following.

As Hannah attempts a believable and engrossing tale of Freddie’s murder mystery within a Boston library from her native home in Australia, she struggles with the occasional American nuance. Leo, the aforementioned obsessive fan, timidly offers suggestions in the beginning, which gradually escalate to disturbing demands.
While Freddie’s library murder keeps the reader guessing as to the motive, and the identity of the killer, it’s the subplot involving Hannah and Leo that makes this novel unique and adds that extra layer of suspense all mystery fans crave. Although I prefer more compelling characters, THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY is a fun read I heartily recommend. Much appreciation to NetGalley, Sulari Gentill, and Poisoned Pen Press for the ARC.
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4.5, really. This has all of the elements I enjoy in a story: It's layered without prioritizing any of the layers, it's mildly funny, the mystery (mysteries) stands up well, and the characters are slightly over the top without being ridiculous.
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This novel is written in the unique alternating format of emails written to an author by a fan and the author's drafts of her latest novel.  The woman of the title is found by an assorted group of researchers who happen to gather together in the Reading Room of the Boston Public Library.  But there are hidden connections between the new friends, the victim, and other mysterious occurrences.  When the body count rises, the friends must trust themselves and each other to find the killer and prevent their own deaths. The fan's emails add additional intrigue creating a complex maze of slowly unravelling secrets.
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This is two stories in one (three if you count the fictional Freddie’s story). The first story is an email correspondence between Hannah Tigone, an Australian author and a man called Leo Johnson who lives in the states and gives her suggestions on how to “Americanize” her novel. The second is about four strangers who strike up a friendship after hearing a woman scream during the middle of the day while at the Boston Public Library. The body of a female journalist named Caroline is discovered the next day. Each of the characters has a secret they are hiding and slowly the layers are peeled back. Winifred “Freddie” Kincaid is a Marriott Scholarship winner from Australia who is in America to write a novel. She uses the murder and her new friends as inspiration for her book. Freddie and her new friends Cain, Marigold, and Whit become inseparable until strange things begin happening, leaving them each to wonder who could be trusted and whom of them might be a murderer. 

This was a fast-paced and thrilling read that had me on the edge of my seat. I kept wondering who the murderer was and I have to say I was completely WRONG! The storyline was pretty easy to follow once I got the hang of it and I couldn’t wait to see what “suggestions” of Leo’s, Hannah would include in her next chapter. I liked the characters for the most part and was interested in how it was all going to play out. All the little connections throughout the story were well placed. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Poisoned Pen Press, and Sulari Gentill for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I had high hopes for this book because it involved a library mystery, my favorite to read. It started out interesting with a group of four strangers meeting in the Boston Public Library and hearing a woman's scream while they are seated together. When they learn the following day that a woman was killed, they form a friendship united by this experience until occurrences happen that cause them to suspect one of their group.

Along with the main story, there's a subplot about a frustrated writer who corresponds with the book's author sharing feedback on the plot and characters. Some of the feedback involves suggestions on how to improve the story. One of those suggestions involves adding details of the pandemic. The writer, a man named Leo who lives in Boston, is also represented in the book. But when he begins to send details of murders happening in his area, Hannah, the Australian author he is corresponding with, contacts the police who request that she continue to write to Leo to gather more information about him so they can conduct an investigation.

In my opinion, the two plots resolve predictably as the library murder is solved and the correspondence between Hannah and Leo end. Some readers may enjoy the way the main plot and subplot flow together and a few of the Australianism that are used. The characters are somewhat engaging, and there are a few twists that add surprises.
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This book was absolutely incredible!! One of the best mysteries/thrillers I’ve read to date. It kept me intrigued and guessing until the very last chapter - and now I’m eager to explore any and all of the other books Gentill has written. She framed the story in a very unique and interesting way; following each chapter, there is correspondence from another novelist/fan (named Leo), commenting on the chapter. Leo does much of the legwork with researching Boston (as our author resides in Australia). The research provided by the Leo gets darker and increasingly more alarming and incriminating as the book goes on and it becomes something of a thriller within a thriller. It was hard to put this book down! I would highly recommend this book to any mystery/thriller fans!
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my opinion.

Four individuals are drawn together in the Boston Public Library after a scream rips through the reading room. A little confused and shaken the four strangers form a friendship that otherwise might never have happened. The next day a murder takes front page in the news, and the body was found at the library and the scream they heard was that of the murder victim.

Cut in between the chapters of the story are letters from a character who is sending useful bit of research to help make the book more authentic. Thus you end up reading two different stories at once.

Over all it was okay. I like the concept and the two stories together. I didn't really like the characters too much even though they were different they didn't really stand out. I have to say I think the letters were my favorite part. I know I picked this book up for the title alone, and I get why they used it. I was just wishing more happened at the library than just the scene for an off the page murder.
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“…and I have my first coffee with a killer.”  The last words of the first chapter – and I couldn’t wait to read more!  At first, I didn’t understand the letters before each chapter, but it didn’t take long to realize that the author is writing as an author sending chapters to a friend for review and advise.  What comes from that is its own story, so you get two stories in one!  I had an inkling of who the killer was right from the beginning, but the author did a good job of making me second guess myself a couple of times.  There is lots of intrigue in this book and I’m glad I got to read it – it’s an excellent book!
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I really enjoyed this story and the premise of the mystery. I also really liked the choice to have a 2nd story thread through the emails at the end of each chapter. The characters were interesting and I definitely felt myself trying to piece together what happened. Would definitely recommend picking this one up.
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Four people walk into a library as strangers and walk out as friends. How, do you ask? They get connected by a woman's death scream.  It gave me Agatha Christie vibes in the sense of this book does a great job drawing out the mystery and keeping you guessing on the "Who done it?"  What makes this story unique is Gentill did an inception on us readers, a story within a story.  Gentill writes the main story about the four new friends working together to solve which one of them is a murderer, while framing that story with another mystery involving a crazed-stalker fan.  Gentill gave us a 2 for 1, which I really enjoyed.  I was hoping for a bigger twist at the end but this book was a solid 3.5 stars for me.
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First of all I would like to Thank Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this story. Secondly, The Woman in the Library was such a pleasure to read, from the moment I had started, to the ending. Three mysteries in one  could not have been an easy feat for the author, but Sulari Gentill manages to do just that amazingly well. The plots intertwined and made you think about what was going on in each individual story and why. I haven't had this much fun figuring out "Who Done It" in a very long time. Bravo--so well done!
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Superb! Excellent! I thoroughly adored this book, and cannot wait to see more from Sulari Gentill. This reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books, The Writing Club by Jincy Willet.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

A killer is loose in this whodunit.  A novelist is communicating with a friend who is giving her advice on a new storyline.  Things get sketchy fairly early on.
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A compelling & brilliantly plotted whodunit set in Boston that starts with a scream inside the Boston Public Library, a murder & several potential suspects.
This is the story of Freddie a young aspiring writer hailing from Australia who is the recipient of a writing grant, and her unexpected relationships with the two  young men and one young woman who were sharing  a table with her at the BPL the day of the murder..... 
A scream that will bond the four of them and send them into an impetuous quest for reasons, answers and the identity of the person or persons behind  the murder of the Woman in the library..... 

But beware Dear reader, nothing is as it seems in this captivating murder mystery and quick and superficial friendships could actually turn out to be too dangerous to really handle......

With enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat for few a  hours, this menacing "story within a story" should definitely leave more than one unexpected reader totally gobsmacked by the end....

Australian author Sulari Gentill has been one of my best literary discoveries in 2021 👍👍and this terrific upcoming release really deserved to be thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish without any moderation whatsoever!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Poisoned Pen for this terrific ARC
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** Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. **

It all starts with four strangers...and a scream. 

When Freddie sat down in the Boston Public Library's Reading Room to work on her latest novel, she had no idea that the three strangers at her table would become so entangled with her life. But the scream that cuts through the silence of the library binds the group together in a twisting murder mystery where nothing is as it seems. 

Even the story that the reader holds in their hand isn't as it seems. In fact, it is a story within a story! The chapters end with the correspondence of Leo, a fan and beta reader (?) to the author of Freddie's tale. As Freddie's story progresses, so to does Leo's correspondence grow more obsessive. 

The Woman in the Library is one of  those rare books that I neither loved or nor hated. It simply...was. The jump between the novel and Leo's letters was sometimes jarring and I had a hard time switching my brain from one aspect to the other. The concept in and of itself is fantastic...I'm just not sure if it worked. I think, though, that what really killed any chance of me loving this book was mention of the pandemic. I know for some this isn't a big deal, but I just can't get behind books that mention the pandemic when we're still living through it. It's a personal thing and, it just killed my enjoyment of the book. Maybe, if I read it again a few years down the road, I will have a different view. 

In all, though, The Woman in the Library, is an interesting tale that keeps the reader guessing from page one.
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