First I want to say thank you for the ebook ARC through netgalley!
Okay this book was a wild ride. Two different stories are told at the same time, one being a novel and the other being correspondence to the author or the novel. I don't think I've read any other books with quite the same structure and I totally loved it. It was such a fun murder mystery that had me constantly changing who my main suspect was.
This took me a minute to get into, but once I did I was hooked! This story was smart and twisty and I had a great time reading it.
There is a sort of meta element to this as there is a dual plot. One where an Australian writer is on fellowship in Boston and while she is trying to get over writer's block at the Boston Public Library she hears a scream that puts the room on lockdown. She makes friends with 3 people sitting at her table and later they find that a woman was murdered and for reasons are trying to figure out whodunnit. Meanwhile there is a secondary thread that has the aforementioned plot as the plot of a book that an Australian writer in Australia is writing and she is receiving advice/critiques from a friend in Boston that get progressively creepier.
I really liked the commentary pieces. I thought they added an extra layer of "what on earth is happening here" and liked how the author used those to get around the issue many contemporary authors are facing with setting their books in the times of Covid-19. I also liked how she used those bits to discuss how race matters to the plot. I also think the book brought up some interesting things related to incarceration and how formerly incarcerated people are treated.
I did have some issues with the pacing and there were some parts that I felt could have been a little more polished; however, I really enjoyed the book overall.
This is a high 4-star book that will release June 7. The Woman in the Library is a layered book-within-a-book with a twisty plot. I actually hit a part about half way through, when I actually said "Whoa." It was that surprising.
The main focus of the book centers on Freddie, an Australian living in Boston on a fellowship while she writes a novel. At the Boston Public Library, she meets Cane, Marigold and Witt and they are united when they hear a woman scream. The foursome forge a strong friendship after a woman's body is found in the library. But one of the friends is not what he or she seems and the others might be in danger.
That alone would make a great book, but is actually the plot written by Hannah, an Australian mystery writer. We are introduced to her through a series of emails sent by Leo, an American who we assume is her research assistant since she is sending him advance chapters of the book. Leo's emails also cover the wildfires in Australia and the lockdown caused by Covid. That added a fascinating touch to a memorable book.
I highly recommend this one.
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
Twisted, chilling murder mystery with an enjoyable plot twist! A story within a story, a format which I never came across and it was refreshing to read it for the first time with this one. The beginning is a bit confusing as there is no info dump or any telling why there is suddenly a letter at the end of each chapter, but as the story continues I quickly picked up what's happening. It was very interesting regarding the fast-paced and the confusion in between deciding which character is the culprit of Caroline's murder.
The characters are well-written as each has their own favorable points as well as their background stories which makes them more grounded to reality and relatable. The plot is a bit slow at first but quickly develops as the mystery twined between the four newly-friends.
I must say I was shocked to finally discovered the hidden meaning behind the letter written on each end of the chapters, it gave me goosebumps knowing the truth behind it.
A cleverly written mystery with a dark twist!
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for letting me read an ARC of The Woman in the Library!
This story begins at the Boston Public Library where four strangers end up at the same table after a loud scream occurs. The four individuals would not have had contact with one another if this murder in the library had not occurred.
Each person begins to share information about themselves and soon we find out that one of these individuals committed the crime.
This book has a book within a book type format. It took me a few chapters to get used to this and adjust to what I was reading.
This story has a great cover and story line. You had me at books and murder!
A whodunit & a story within a story.
I had a hard time initially with the switching back & forth between Hannah’s (fictional author) book & the feedback to her from a “committed” fan. I felt it interrupted the story flow at first, but I ended up liking it when that aspect of the plot became complicated. I did not like that two characters had the same name- I kept waiting to understand why & either missed it or it didn’t happen. I enjoyed the plot overall. Character development started off strong and fizzled out later for me.
I would encourage readers to read the author’s note at the end.
Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the opportunity to read this early copy for an honest review.
Tough read. I'm still trying to figure it all out
I guess its a story within a story. For me it was hard to follow.
Was able to get through it but can't recommend this book
This is the first book by this author that I have read.. I found the novel to be an enjoyable, twisty and entertaining read. The book within a book storyline is one of my favorite formats, as it requires my full attention. Also, this format (book within a book) kept me guessing and engaged until the very last page. Highly recommend.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.
I really liked this book. The beginning was a little confusing because I was trying to distinguish between three story lines. However, I really loved the ending and the character development. I couldn’t put this one down at times!
Wow, what can I say! I really enjoyed this book and even the sub story........
Winnifred (Freddie) is visiting Boston on a Marriott Scholarship from her homeland in Australia and spends most of her days trying to write her mystery novel in the Boston Public Library.
Whilst sitting there, Freddie takes note of three people sharing her table, Freud Girl, Handsome Man, and Heroic Chin, as she decides how best to write them into her book, a huge scream rings through the air. Security asks everyone to stay in their seat while they investigate. The group started chatting and eventually when cleared by security, they head for coffee, the first of many with a killer.
In between chapters, we have an email exchange between the author Hannah and Leo, who is a super-fan, and who insists on reading each chapter as soon as it's written.
Brilliant and highly recommended
An Australian mystery writer, who can’t travel because of the pandemic sends chapters of her latest WIP to a fan in Boston. At first, Leo is oh so helpful, providing location details and insights into words that aren’t used in Boston. But as the book progresses he reveals some rather disturbing information and he seems taken aback when Hannah(the author) isn’t more grateful for his suggestions.
The 'book' is about four people, Freddie, Whit, Marigold, and Cain who meet under rather unusual circumstances. They are all in the Boston Public Library and would most likely have never spoken if they didn't hear a woman's bloodcurdling scream. They become fast friends, but one of them has a background that will make the others question whether or not he can be trusted. Before you can say, isn't it nice to make new friends, the body count is on the rise, and their chance encounter might have been anything but chance.
Each chapter is one from her book and they all end with Leo’s ideas. So you have the mystery that the author is writing and also are trying to figure out what’s up with Leo. There were times when I forgot which characters were fictional from the book and which were “real” My first book by this author and I enjoyed it.
The reading room at the Boston Public Library is where people go for quiet and to get things done in peace.
That peace is shattered for all patrons when a blood-curdling scream echoes through the building. The next day the body of a young woman is found in one of the conference rooms.
Four strangers who were witnesses to the scream - Winifred (Freddie), Cain, Marigold, and Whit - form a fast friendship and band together to try to solve the mystery of what happened, except the murderer might be one of them.
The Woman in the Library is kind of this twisting story within a story within a story scenario. At the end cap of each chapter, we see struggling author Leo corresponding with renowned author Hannah as Hannah sends along the latest chapters of her work in progress about four strangers meeting in a library and becoming embroiled in a murder mystery.
Similarly, Freddie and Cain are both writers currently in varying phases of writing their own stories, drawing inspiration from the mystery happening around them.
Honestly, I love this whole idea and the rabbit hole it drags the reader into, but I have to say that I don't know if the execution was entirely on point. I think the "real world" portion involving Hannah's correspondence missed the mark in truly pulling me into Hannah's story. There was just this lack of depth that I felt these sections instead of adding more to the overall story, ended up pulling a bit away from Hannah's work of fiction within the story. There is a breath-catching moment close to the middle of the book where things kind of take a turn and I was super excited about this turn, but I don't think the book took things to where they needed to go. I think things could have been better if the focus was kept more in one section or another, either "book world" or "real world".
I did like the juxtaposition of events happening in the "real world" as Sulari Gentill does reference and brings the pandemic into focus, whereas the "book world" seemingly happens outside of this or within a world in which the pandemic is not happening. To see the two sides is interesting as well as the idea of whether or not authors have a responsibility to accurately represent world events within the pages of fiction.
I enjoyed the various twists and turns that we get throughout the "book world". I think that Sulari Gentill builds up that anxiety of questioning our judgment in how well we truly know those around us but shows us the strength it often takes to believe in your convictions even when information tends to point in another direction.
This is the first book by Gentill's that I've read, but I'm very interested to see what other things the author has to offer. I love the idea of the story not following a familiar path in terms of how a mystery is supposed to play out.
3.5 stars for this one!! at first i was lost with the letters from Leo and i took me a while to really grasp is this a real story about people or one "Hannah" was writing. But it was one about Hannah was writing and she was sending the Chapters for Leo to read and through his letters back we get a creepy sense. The way he goes and finds crime scene to take pictures of for Hannah's work, and i can't stand how he is always correcting her Australian terms and as the novel goes on his letters seem more angry and personal and getting very upset with how hannah is taking the story. Than we have the characters in Hannah story, Freddie the main character was my favourite and how she never gave up on Cain even though all this evidence was coming up against him. Marigold was kind of annoying and i felt her to be pushy and annoying and stalkerish. Whit was kinda not really memorable either way, he didn't stand out to me but i think that was on purpose and it worked with the story line. Cain was definitely mysterious and had you guessing throughout the whole book. The twist in the end got me, really this whole book got me i thought i was reading a story about a murder in the library and these 4 people would be stuck together in till its solved type of story line but it took a different turn and was really good! the only thing i didn't like was how it ended! i felt like it ended it quick, and left alot of questions unanswered and i guess i just wanted to know more about both story lines!
This is a story within a story. A mysterious scream by strangers are heard which pulls this group together. Strange things start happening and they are trying to figure out if one of them is a murderer.
What began as a cozy mystery became true terror at moments.
This is a story-in-a-story mystery about a set of pen pals and four friends who are tied together by a scream in a library. How does it get better than that?
Although it was very difficult to parse the layers of storytelling in the first 2-3 chapters, I felt there was something magnetic about this story from the very beginning. Perhaps it is the mastery with which the author flows from the conversational tone of the pen pals to the narrative voice of the central mystery. Throughout the book, you’ll find a cast of mostly well-developed characters and friendships that feel like a cozy sweater. It is dark and warm and written in a book lovers’ landscape.
A notable content warning and critique: There are mentions of both child and adult sexual abuse that absolutely weren’t necessary to the plot or character development. (I wouldn’t have read it at all if I had known this in advance.)
P.S. Read the authors note after you’ve finished the book. There’s some fascinating info about the inspiration for the story.
This book blew me away! I loved the concept of a novel within a novel. The characters were bold and brilliantly written. The plot kept me guessing. I would recommend this to all mystery lovers. A wonderful book from front to back.
A lovely whodunit with a twist, this is a mystery within a mystery. It begins with a letter from Leo, a fan, to Hannah, an Australian renowned mystery author who seeks to give advice on her new manuscript that she is writing. Due to Covid restrictions, she is stuck in Australia and unable to travel to Boston. As the setting of her story is set in Boston, Leo offers to give her local research for her book and untold advice. As the story progresses, however, it seems as if his advice becomes a bit obsessive and intense. The real mystery story that we see unfold takes place in the Boston Library that begins with a scream. Heard by four people together in one of the reading rooms, they are drawn together by this event becoming fast friends to unravel the mystery when a dead woman’s body is found the next day. Hannah has created her nemesis, Freddie, as also an Australian mystery writer, who seeking inspiration for her next book hunkers down in the library and observes those around her for characters in her book. There is Freud Girl (Marigold) who is a psychology student, Heroic Chin (Cain) who is a published author, and Handsome Man (Whit), a failing law student. Each have their own back story that slowly unfolds as the mystery story by Hannah is written and shared with Leo. However fast friends, could one of them be the killer?
I loved the different premise of the story within a story as Leo writes to Hannah. The characters are multidimensional and complex. What you think you know, makes you second guess yourself. That she chooses to add a character, also named Leo, into the actual mystery at the library is clever and unnerving. There are lots of twists and turns and one that will leave you at the end saying…whaaat? It does get a bit creepy but in a delightful way. This book makes you think, as you try to decipher reality from fiction because at times they seem to cross over. This great whodunit is worth the read.
Many thanks to #netgalley #thewomaninthelibrary #poisonedpenpress for the opportunity to read and review this book.
"Dear Hannah, what are you writing?"
From the beginning, you know that Gentill's novel is a story within a story. We start with a letter from a mysterious "Leo" who is giving advice to Hannah, the author of the story we are going to read. I have to say that this immediately intrigued me - Leo came off a little desperate (I almost thought he was a fan, at first), and almost creepy when he writes "I so regret that I was unable to come to New York when you toured last fall." And if beginning the book with a letter wasn't interesting enough, I was quickly sucked into the quicksand of the story itself.
Four strangers (two of them who are writers themselves) are connected by a woman's scream in the Boston Public Library and find themselves in the middle of a murder and, more thrillingly, a whodunit. As friendly as they became, little did they know that one of them was the killer. Our main character, Freddie, uses her new friends - an ex-convict novelist, a psychology student stalker, and a trying-to-fail law student - as inspiration in her own novel, and as the mystery unravels, the plot becomes more thrilling.
Each character is complex and believable, to the point where I forgot which characters were fictional and which were not!n The story within a story also got increasingly dark, as our "friendly" Leo's input becomes unnatural (in the form of pictures of actual murders). I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, as it was clever and did not have to rely on supernatural twists to keep the plot compelling. Well done!
We Heard Her Scream…
Addictive. This book was hard to put down! And the subplot was chilling. I didn’t know which one I was more excited to continue reading. I’m proud to say that I picked the murderer early on, but that’s not due to the mystery being easily figured out. There’s so many twists and turns and information dumps that it just continues to get more interesting with every page. I loved the characters and character development to the point where I’m a little sad that it’s a stand alone book and not a series (although there is potential for that to change). The author has such a great writing style that makes me want to read everything she’s written! It’s a must read!
x Sarah - Anneoftucson Reviews
The Woman in the Library is a clever murder mystery on its own, but the supposed author of the book has her own story which is revealed by an ominous fan of her work. After getting used to the story within a story, I was able to enjoY this book and finish it in one day. Great plotting and fine description of restaurants that I plan to discover on my next visit to Boston, the setting of the story.