Cover Image: The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

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Member Reviews

I liked this book but I’m not normally a mystery fan so I really had to push myself to read it. I’ve recommended it to a few patrons and they’ve all seemed to like it!
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I couldn't get into this book at all. I thought the premise of a murder inside a library with a limited number of suspects  would be really enjoyable but it was not. The mystery within a mystery is also something I enjoy but everything about this book fell flat.
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This is a thriller that follows 4 people who are brought together by a woman’s scream in a library. Freddie is an Australian author who secured a fellowship in the US.  Now she is in another country and she doesn’t know anyone. This makes character development very difficult.  Will her assumptions about her three fellow library squatters be correct?  Do you really know your friends or those who you call friends?  What happens when an unknown killer starts stalking you?  

I really enjoyed this story. The author does a good job of interweaving two different stories into one novel. Not only do you get to follow the journey of Freddie, the fictional author in the story but you also get to see the relationship between an author and very passionate beta reader.  This story really makes you ask yourself, “How well do I really know those people I let into my life?”

The pacing throughout this story and the hooks that the author uses at the end of the chapters do a good job of providing adequate pacing throughout. These things help keep the reader engaged as the author jumps between present time and a fictional time period. I feel the character development was consistent and good throughout the story however, I would have loved more backstory on Freddie. I felt that there were some parts of the story that were a bit repetitive but it did not take away from the story.  While I guessed the twist at the end, I wasn’t fully correct and that made me happy. I love when an author surprise slaps me across the face.
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This one keeps you guessing! The story is set up on an unsual framework. The main story involves and author called Hannah who lives in Australia. She is writing a mystery novel set in Boston. Since this is taking place during covid lockdowns, she is unable to come to the US to do any research about where her book is set. It's good that she has a writer friend, Leo, who lives in Boston. As she completes each chapter of the book, she sends it to Leo for his comments. So the book is one chapter of the story being written by Hannah, followed up by Leo's comments. He is also an aspiring writer and is not shy in asking Hannah to help him get some contacts in the industry.

The mystery centers around Winifred "Freddie" Kincaid, a writer from Australia who has received a grant to write a book while based in the USA. She goes to the Boston Public Library one day for a change of scenery from her room and while observing some other patrons nearby, everyone is startled by a woman's scream. The four people seated near each other when this happens form an instant bond and begin meeting to discuss what happened, especially when they learn a young woman's body has been found in the library. Aside from Freddie, the other three are: Marigold (Freud Girl in Freddie's novel), a young woman with many tattoos who is studying psychology (and frequently remarks in passing that she's a genius):  Whit (Heroic Chin) a young man from a wealthy family who is trying hard not to succeed at Harvard Law School; and Cain (Handsome Man), a published novelist working on another book. The four of them begin an unlikely friendship that involves meeting frequently and investigating the case. Of course, secrets come out about everyone, and Freddie begins to realize that no matter how much she likes these people, she really doesn't know much about them.

I really enjoyed the unusual way this novel takes shape. The "helpful" American friend, Leo, who is offering advice and suggestions to Hannah the novelist also becomes a character in the book, which Leo comments on in real life. There are many mysteries to sort out, and it's a lot of fun following the dual stories to the end!
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I have had this book sitting in my kindle queue for way too long so I finally picked it up on a trip. It wasn’t for me, I guess there was a reason I let it sit for so long. It felt messy and confusing with the book within the book, and I honestly didn’t care about the letter-writer’s feedback. I couldn’t finish it.
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Writers tend to see the world around them as their next story—one that’s just waiting to be written. In The Woman in the Library by author Sulari Gentill, a writer is inspired by the new friends she meets in the library—and by the mystery that ties them all together....

Full review published on NightsAndWeekends.com - and aired on Shelf Discovery
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This is a book about four people trying to solve a murder. Sounds cliché and it is. But it is also fun, with some plot twists on it and it does get the reader going. I couldn’t leave it!

Despite that, there are somethings that bugged me. The narrative is a little messy and confusing – specially in the beginning when you are still understanding that there’s a book within a book… within a book in it. There’s a lot of blank spots in the story and it seems like the author was just figuring everything out as she wrote it (no problem in that, sure, but it looks like there was no later editing on it to give an unit to it). 

I didn’t really care for any of the characters and at some point, I felt the author forgot about two of the four main ones. In another moment, I just wanted to know more about what was happening between the two people exchanging letters in “the real world” and she would give no information!

But anyways, the author manages to keep the reader curious enough so that we don’t want to stop reading, even though the plot is predictable and with it flaws. 

This is definitely a weird book. A reading where the journey of actually reading it is much more interesting than the plot itself. And worth it. It is fast. It is fun. And it keeps you curious and motivated to the end.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and Netgalley for an ARC of this book. I had fun.
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I didnt have any expectations going into this book but I loved the story within a story within a story format. It was engaging and I will definitely be checking out more works from this author.
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I have to admit, I started this book twice.  The first time I was confused by the letter in the beginning and then Chapter One didn’t connect with the letter.  But I tried again and am so happy that I did.  The premise of the book is that it is a novel being written by Hannah Tigone, an Australian author.  Leo, the letter writer, is somehow a friend of Hannah.   Hannah sends him chapters of her book and Leo offers suggestions.  The book Hannah is writing is told by Freddie, also an Australian author.  Freddie has been given the opportunity to live and write in Boston by winning the Marriot Scholarship.  She occasionally writes in the Boston Public Library. While there one day she ends up at a table with Marigold, Cain and Whit.  When a woman screams in another area, the guards make everyone stay where they are while they investigate.  After the all clear, the foursome head out for coffee together.  This is where Freddy tells us “I have my first coffee with a killer”.  The next day, the group finds out a woman was actually murdered in the library the day before.  The “book” follows the group as they try to solve the murder mystery. Each chapter ends with a letter to Hannah from Leo.  His notes become increasingly disturbing.  Perhaps Hannah is in danger herself.
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This was a wonderful read as a lover of mysteries and libraries! The format of the book worked well for me, I love a book-within-a-book concept and this was such fun. The way it integrated Australian and American culture, the pandemic in a realistic way, and the layers of mystery was such a good romp as a reader. Highly recommend!
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It just wasn’t for me. I was expecting something different, I guess. This is nothing against the author, Jude just not what I was expecting from the book
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I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. I picked it up because of the title mainly. I was so glad that I did.  I was unable to put it down.  From the first scream in the library I was entranced.  There were so many reason to keep reading this book. I loved the. I loved the characters and how they worked together in the story.  If you like mysteries this is a great read for you.  I had no idea all the twists and turns this books would have.  The fact that it first started in the Boston Public Library was just a plus for me.
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This book’s description had me very intrigued. Who doesn’t love the premise of a good locked door murder mystery set in a library? But this one fell flat for me. The switching between the main storyline and the subplots makes it difficult to keep up with and also leaves little room for good character development, so everyone is bland. It does have some nice twists though. If you enjoy books that shift between two plots at once, you may enjoy this twisty thriller.
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Very interesting book and story. I like how the author have intertwined the characters in this one. It started to read a little choppy but it smoothed out eventually.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Woman in the Library is available now.

The thing that grabbed me and immediately interested me in reading this book was that it featured the word “library” in the title. That’s it. If there is an angle that features words, libraries, or bookstores, I’ll be almost immediately intrigued. The writing and storyline kept me reading, happily drawn into a fun mystery involving four new-found friends.

Author Sulari Gentill plays off the new-friend dynamic incredibly well. When people first hit it off, it’s easier to ignore (or not even notice) things about the other person which will either begin to annoy over time or, in the worst of cases, turn out to be major red flags. These four people met in a library reading room, brought together by a stressful event. That’s enough to form the beginnings of friendship right there, although of course someone is not who they seem.

The book’s storytelling tricks were my favorite thing about it. The Woman in the Library features an author named Hannah Tigone who is writing a novel that starts in a library. The novel is about a writer (named Freddie) who gets sucked into a murder while researching for her own book. It sounds a lot more confusing than it is. For the purpose of this review, I’ll refer to the character writing the book about the writer as the author, and the character who happens to be in the library at the time of a murder as the writer. It’s actually a ton of fun, despite my lousy attempt to explain it.

While the writer in the book builds new friendships, the author begins to be disturbed by the unhealthy relationship forming with her Beta reader. Now, that was a character that was easy to hate. Holy cow, everything he “wrote” in his letters to Hannah was absolutely awful. That it degenerated in nature from horrible to dangerous was an unexpected progression that made a sick sort of sense. The continuation of the story wavered from distracting to adding an extra layer of suspense. I’m still not sure how I feel about that whole thing, although I can’t deny that it ratcheted up the tension level of The Woman in the Library.

There were four main characters in the author’s book: the writer, Freddie, in the U.S. from Australia with the purpose of working on her own book; Whit, the laze-about whose aspirations don’t match those of his overbearing mother; Marigold, a tattooed free spirit who is also something of a genius (according to her); and Cain, an enigma who has written a bestselling book of his own. One of them is also a coldblooded killer, of course. It’s up to Freddie to figure out who.

I will admit that I figured out the whodunnit before it was revealed, although the motive escaped me. The characters were all fun to read, although I had a soft spot for nosy, stalkerish Marigold. The book raised the stakes as it went along and by the end it was hurtling at breakneck speed toward its conclusion. I liked the way the book’s pacing sped up as the mystery got closer to being solved.

There was some brief mention of attempted sexual assault, which I feel I should warn readers about. It was not detailed, but it’s always best (in my opinion) to be aware if something like that will pop up. I’m sensitive to that subject and it was vague and short enough that I was able to skip over the paragraph or so mentioning it without any issue. So, there’s that.

The Woman in the Library was a highly entertaining mystery filled with twists and unexpected reveals. I enjoyed it quite a bit and recommend it to people who want a fun suspense-ridden novel.
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Thank you for giving me the chance to read this. I loved the idea of it and the cover is perfect. I just couldn't connect with it. I found the story within a story to be too much and wasn't enjoying it. I think I could have connected better to the characters and story if it didn't have the switches in parts. The Editor parts were more like interrupting it for me.
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There was a lot going on in this book! A story inside of a story! I buckled in from the first page and never trusted a single soul. This was my first book by this author an I was pleasantly surprised how quickly this book grabbed my attention and refused to let me sleep until I knew all the answers! Fantastic read.
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A library. Book Lovers. A reading room. Book Lovers. Murder. Immediate obsession. Add a complicated narrative requiring your complete attention. 
I had to pause life to keep - well worth it! There is so much I want to say - but I don't want to give it anything away. This book deconstructs murder mysteries - offering puns, standard characters, complicated narrative and a plot that will have you obsessed!
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This was an absolutely fascinating read! I loved the story within a story. The merging of real life with the actual crime was keeping me on my toes. I was constantly guessing where the story would lead next. The setting of Boston was also really exciting! The author did an excellent job really creating a scene intentionally.
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I received an advanced reader copy of Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill in exchange for an honest review.

“Murderer isn’t a job description. It tends to be something you do on the side.”

The Woman in the Library begins with an excellent premise: four strangers are sitting together in the library when they hear a scream. The strangers quickly become friends, not realizing one of their new friends is a murderer. How exciting! This book starts off with a bang and then maintains that momentum throughout. I loved reading about the four friends and the mystery that tied them together.

What the blurb failed to mention is this novel’s brilliant meta narrative. At the end of every chapter there is a letter addressed to Hannah, the in-universe author of the book we’re reading. Hannah has been sending drafts of her chapters to Leo, who lives in Boston and thus can provide insight and suggestions regarding the accuracy of the setting of Woman in the Library. I had no idea what to expect from these letters, and their storyline was at some points even more thrilling than the main narrative! It was amusing reading each chapter and then seeing Leo pick it apart. The addition of these letters to the novel was genius, and elevated Woman in the Library to another level.

That isn’t the only way in which this novel is super meta; Hannah is writing about four strangers in a library hearing a scream and trying to solve the murder, and then her protagonist Winnifred/Freddie is also a writer, and uses her experience in the library as inspiration for her own novel where four strangers in a library hear a scream and try to solve the murder. I know meta narratives can be polarizing for some readers, but it is done so masterfully here that even those who typically avoid it would be remiss to pass this up.

Woman in the Library is without a doubt the best book I’ve read through NetGalley this year. It is a phenomenal novel, and now I’m eager to pick up Gentill’s other novel, After She Wrote Him. Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the advanced reader copy.
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