Cover Image: The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

My favorite thing about Netgalley has been the exposure to authors who are new to me as a reader.  I LOVED this book!  Count me as a new fan of Sulari Gentill.

This story-within-a-story format really pulled me in.  Story 1 is the tale of 4 strangers who meet in the Boston Public Library, and they form sort of a weird bond/friendship after hearing a woman's scream. They find out later a woman was murdered in the library.   The foursome is a collection of writers, a graduate psychology student, and a hopeful law school flunkee.  By all accounts they should work as friends, but somehow they do.  Because they were in the BPL at the time of the murder, they are questioned by police.  Little tidbits about each are released, and I had to figure out who was guilty.  

Yet, Story 2 is told through a series of emails between a writer and another writer/fan of her work.  She is currently writing Story 1 and getting feedback from a fan/fellow writer.  He comments on each facet of Story 1, and then the emails take a turn in tone.  

Really, this book blew my mind a little bit!  Can't wait to purchase a copy when it releases in June.  Thank you Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for this ARC copy.
Was this review helpful?
This was an exciting take on a locked room mystery with a second disturbing plot woven throughout.

This was my first Gentill book, and I loved the exciting and fresh plot. The book centers around an author who is writing a mystery and her correspondence with another author regarding the plot. I found this idea fresh and exciting.

Additionally, the book takes place in a library and is meant for book lovers as well as mystery lovers. 

What a great book. I would definitely recommend this fun, fresh read.
Was this review helpful?
Oh my goodness, what a ride! When I read the synopsis, I went in expecting a locked room type of mystery, and that's what I got, but gosh I also got so much more!

The synopsis: One day, 4 strangers are sitting together in the Reading Room of the Boston Public Library when a scream breaks through the silence. It turns out that a woman has been murdered in the library, and one of the 4 sitting at the table is the murderer. How, when they were all sitting together when the murder occurred? In this twisty literary thriller, we follow the 4 strangers as they become fast friends, all the while wondering which one of them has taken a life. How well can you truly know someone? These friends find out the hard way: Not well at all.

So right in the first 5% of the book, we get a twist. It was something that was not mentioned at all in the synopsis, and it threw me for a loop, but it was perfect. I'm glad that every review I've seen so far for this book hasn't mentioned it--it's a moment that is completely unexpected, and it is best experienced when you don't know anything about it.

The structure of this book is what really awed me. I can't say too much without veering into spoilers, but Gentill managed to combine two literary forms and create a mystery that was just wholly original and wildly thrilling. Gentill's characters were well-developed, and the curveballs that she threw at the readers about certain aspects of the characters were truly masterful. I spent the whole time flip-flopping about who I thought the killer was and isn't that one of the marks of a great thriller? I think so! I was fully engaged throughout my entire read, and it wasn't until the killer was revealed that I knew who it was--the plotting of this book was just that good!

After reading this, I'll definitely be checking out Gentill's backlist, because this title was simply stunning.
Was this review helpful?
I was hooked on this book from the very start. 
The storyline was a bit confusing to start with, having the letters at the end of the chapters, but I soon got used to that. I did not guess at all what was going to happen in both timelines. 
The characters were well written and engaging.
There were a few grammar mistakes here and there and repeated words.
I will be picking up a final copy when it is released. 
Thanks to Netgalley, Poisoned Pen Press, and Sulari Gentill for allowing me to read this wonderful book before release.
Was this review helpful?
Crime fiction genre is one of my favorites. Now throw in a scream, a murder and a library? You got yourself a story! I was on the edge of my seat ( and every last page). A great read- but make sure the lights are on.
Was this review helpful?
Engaging mystery with a unique framing device that results in several shocking twists and thought provoking current event considerations.  Fun read and a perfect choice for  bookclub!
Was this review helpful?
The framing narrative of this novel was intriguing, and both stories were entertaining. 
However, I found the overall effect contrived, without any sense of purpose in the use of the dual narrative. A nice, easy read, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend.
Was this review helpful?
This book had me intrigued right from the beginning. It was interesting to try to figure out who was behind all of this and it truly keeps you guessing. I really enjoyed the Leo character and his suggestions for her book. It added a whole other dimension to the story and particularly, to the ending. This was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the characters, who were flawed, but likable. I'm not familiar with this author, but I will definitely pick up more from her in the near future. I will definitely recommend this one.
Was this review helpful?
Oh my ... sigh.  There is so much that didn’t work for me in The Woman in the Library.  First of all, the pace was erratic.  It started out slowly, dragged on from there, picked up a little about two-thirds of the way through, and then ended.

Nothing really happened until deep into the book.  So many pages are used up trying to set the tone for four people who were supposed to have become fast friends in the enormous Boston Public Library (insert eyeroll … highly unlikely).  That would be the second-of-all.  The whole book was very contrived, even the part about how those four ended up at the same table.

The story-within-a-story’s writer’s painstaking efforts to write a novel became confusing at first and then annoying.  There was a line in the book that had me chuckling, “… a story is about leading a reader to meaning.”  I thought, oh how I wish you would, dear author, because this book is meandering on its way to nowhere.

Regarding the ending, I could see part of it coming as it was very predictable.  The rest was weak at best.  Even the explanation of the woman in the library was lame. When all was explained, it simply wasn’t plausible.  

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and honestly review The Woman in the Library.  Sadly, my review is dismal; this book just wasn’t for me.
Was this review helpful?
I have never read a novel with a plot device quite like this one, but I loved it. I don't want to say too much or give anything away - I will just say that the story is engrossing, I genuinely cared about the characters, and I found the structure refreshing. One of my favourites so far this year. 
Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy to read and review. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This book wasn't for me, unfortunately. I didn't love the voice/tone of the novel-within-the-novel, and the framing device of letters from the creepy guy weren't much better. I'm sure others will enjoy this, though.
Was this review helpful?
This was a creative and fun read! It's a book, within a book...within a book!  Hannah is an established Australian author who is sending her work-in-progress chapter-by-chapter to Leo in Boston for feedback. Leo is an aspiring author and so much more.

Hannah's book is about four young people who become friends after they hear a scream in a library. They quickly bond and later learn that a woman had been murdered. Two of the four new friends are authors so we also learn about their books. Thus the book within a book within a book (to some extent).

As the story progresses we learn how the characters are interrelated as well as learn more about the very helpful Leo.

Even though I didn't think the ending was great, overall the book was very creatively done and entertaining.

Thank you to Net Galley and Poisoned Pen Press for this advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
This book is SO unique.  It’s a thriller/whodunit with a very well-developed main character.  I love the idea of an Australian author in Boston writing her novel in a public library as events occur around her.  The format is also very different, with fan letters reviewing her work as we read along.  Suggestions given by the American, Leo, are quite interesting and highlight some cultural and quirky differences between the two countries.  We’re never quite sure what’s actual versus what’s in the novel and I loved that I was on the edge of my seat figuring it out almost “in real time”.  Letters from the FBI just injected enough real world into this story to make it extremely credible.   I loved the descriptions of Boston and the literary nature.  Aspiring authors, four characters form a different kind of friendship based on shared experiences.   The romance element is entertaining and believable.  It’s not something I usually enjoy in my thrillers, but it is well integrated into the main plot.  Words have power!   I read this book in one sitting and highly recommend it as a five-star read.  I am excited to check out Gentill’s backlist.  Thanks to Poisoned Pen and Net Galley for the fantastic read and for introducing me to a new favorite author.
Was this review helpful?
An intriguing & well written mystery. A story within a story as it were. Seemingly, the author is writing a mystery story about a death in a library & 4 strangers meeting to unravel the clues. After each chapter, we see a letter written by someone critiquing the book who gets more critical and downright creepy as the book goes on. 
I really enjoyed the premise but also felt a little frustrated & confused by it and I couldn’t get on board with some of the characters. I felt some of it was a little too contrived to suit the path of the story so much so that it didn’t quite make sense. I almost get what the author was trying to do but it didn’t quite work for me.
Was this review helpful?
This was almost like a locked room mystery because the author tells you almost immediately the killer is one of a finite group and you spend the rest of the book trying to figure out which one and I thought it was really fun. There is an added layer to the story because there is also a book within a book and that fictional author is sharing chapters with a fellow writer/fan that becomes increasingly creepy as you read. Completely unique idea and if you read the author's notes she tells you the hilarious way in which she came up with the idea.
Was this review helpful?
<i>The Woman in the Library</i> is an intelligently crafted, intriguing construct of a book-within-a-book, making it a worthy read for this concept alone. It’s a twisty-turny whodunnit murder mystery straight out of the Agatha Christie stable, so expect red-herrings galore!   

Although it is a unique idea that certainly adds depth, I found the multi-layered narrative a little distracting, and it was a challenge at times to remain equally engaged in parallel story plots. 

That said, this didn’t spoil it for me, and it’s a must-read, page-turner. I would recommend this to my students (YA readers and fans of, e.g. <i>One of Us is Lying</i>) and fellow book club members, especially to listen and take part in the debate and discussion that would ensue! 

My thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
4.5/5 Stars for sure!!

I didn’t really know what I was in for when I requested the arc for this book. I just know it was an interesting concept and was down for it. But actually reading it was such an amazing experience. 

You are introduced to our author, Freddie, as she sits in a reading room in the Boston Public Library and the three most important people to her… well.. after a scream is heard outside the hall. Later these newly aquatinted friends find out the scream was because a woman was murdered just down the hall from where they all had just met. 

What I did not expect from this is the almost “meta” or even 4th wall-ish breaking side to the story. See, this story about Freddie is actually the work of fiction in the form of a manuscript. That manuscript is being sent to this fan/fellow author, Leo, and we get this subplot along with Freddie’s story through emails from Leo. These emails continue to get increasingly concerning in a way that leaves you wanting more. 

I found myself being pulled just to find out what happened to these friends and what Leo thinks about the story and how it’s going! The only critique I can think of right now is the climax of Freddie’s story sort of plateaued for me compared to our separate story through Leo’s emails. Though, I did not find myself disappointed with either.

This is a hard book to simply explain, but if the plot even sounds remotely like something you’d like I encourage you to try it!!

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Sulari Gentill for the chance to read this story early!!
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley for this eArc!

This was a super fun mystery novel that almost immediately departed from where I thought it was going to go, judging from the description. The embedded narrative may confuse some readers in the beginning (like it did for me), but in the end it added compelling layers to the story overall, including a pretty disconcerting this-could-too-realistically-happen one. 

A writer is procrastinating in the library when she hears a scream. This spurs an intense relationship between them and the three other people at the writer's table. Everything sort of spins out from there. Characters are flawed and make some real dumb decisions, but for the most part I liked it because sometimes we and the people we love and admire DO do dumb stuff sometimes. How we feel about a person can make us overlook a lot of red flags. 

One thing that caught my attention in perhaps not the most positive way was the repeated negative comments about one character's tattoos and how another character assumed so many strange and deeply outdated things about this character because of them. It did jar me out of the story for a second every time it came up. 


You might like this if you like... 

Boston
Australians
Embedded narratives
Friendly doormen
Was this review helpful?
4.75 stars

WHAT A RIDE. I honestly am not certain how to describe this book without giving major plot points away, but I will try my best.

The Woman in the Library has two stories going on - a mystery surrounding a scream in the Boston Public Library and how it brings a group of four people together, and at the end of each chapter, we get an email from the writer of the story's beta reader giving her advice on the setting of Boston and the use of American characters (the writer is Australian). The first couple chapters I thought to myself, this might get a little tedious and then it does the exact opposite and become riveting.
I'm going to recommend this to every mystery reader I know. Top Notch.
Was this review helpful?
Four people are sitting near each other in the Reading Room of the Boston Public Library when a scream rings out. As they try to figure out what happened, they start to bond with each other. However, a woman has died, and they are curious about who did it, and whether it could be one of them.

I really enjoyed this mystery! Within the chapters of the book, there is a subplot about the author of the book getting feedback from an online friend who also perhaps is more nefarious than he first appears, just like the characters in the book. It's very meta, and I loved it! I didn't find the killer to be a wild surprise, but I enjoyed all the buildup to it and the suspense. Definitely recommend! 

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?