Cover Image: The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

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"It was a normal weekday morning, nothing out of the ordinary, until a woman’s scream echoed throughout the Boston Public Library. During the subsequent lockdown, strangers Cain, Marigold, Whit, & Winifred connect while sitting at the same table. They form a fast friendship & start spending more time together than apart. The library incident is initially ruled a false alarm, but soon after a body is discovered. Now the newly-formed group of friends is caught up in a police investigation, & it seems like not all of them are innocent witnesses. One of them might be guilty of murder."

If you’re currently in search of a mystery that’s a thrill ride from the very first chapter, look no further than “The Woman in the Library.” I hadn’t done much research before reading so the first nine pages were enough to hook me. The story lagged a bit in the middle but didn’t take long to pick back up. I finished this book in less than three days because I had to know what happens; it was all I could think about!

The first twist is common knowledge so I’m going to discuss it. The prologue is a letter from American writer Leo Johnson to Australian author Hannah Tigone; they’ve been pen pals for quite awhile but haven’t yet met in person. As a fan of her work, Leo politely but insistently asks for a new book, offering to be her beta reader. We now move into chapter one, setting up a story about four strangers connecting in the Boston Public Library during a police lockdown. After the final sentence, which is quite the enticing cliffhanger, we see another note from Leo to Hannah revealing that he’s test reading her new book. The main plot is her manuscript, & the side plot is her correspondence with Leo, though we only ever see his notes to her. I’d never read anything like that before & thought it was such a brilliant idea. I’ve seen a few reviews saying the line between fiction & reality is confusing at times, but I strongly disagree. It’s always very clear when you’re reading Hannah’s book & when you’re reading Leo’s letters. There is a clear question of how much inspiration she takes from reality, but I would call that intrigue rather than a source of confusion.

I want to give this book all the stars for it’s unique format, but the story did not completely deliver. The whodunnit reveal made sense but disappointed me; I thought there would be more to it, more connection to real life. Speaking of the side plot, there was less development as it went on, & the abrupt resolution was not satisfying. I do feel let down overall, but I must admit the final chapter left me with intriguing questions & theories floating around in my head. My biggest question is why Hannah ended her book the way she did; at the risk of sounding dramatic, that creative choice blew my mind. My final rating is three stars, & I still recommend this thrilling mystery despite an ending that fizzles. The format is a bibliophile version of Inception & fascinating to experience; you won’t be able to put this book down until it ends!  


Content Breakdown:

Abuse: An abusive stepfather is mentioned throughtout the book; Chapter nineteen depicts verbal & physical abuse as well as attempted sexual abuse.

Alcohol, Cigarettes, & Drugs: Mentions of alcohol, alcoholics, bars, intoxication, cigarettes, & junkies; morphine & painkillers are also mentioned in relation to a hospital patient.

Blood & Violence: Multiple mentions of blood & blood splatter | A hypothetical murderer is discussed, the killer pounding his or her victim’s head into a hard surface. | Dead bodies described with bloody hair, cut throats, and/or injuries to the breast & pubic areas | Description of a young girl leaning over a lookout to take a picture & falling to her death because of a loose guardrail | One mention & two depictions of attacks that lead to head trauma | Two mentions & one depiction of a stabbing 

Insensitive Language:

A character makes racially insensitive comments about black people, such as being identifiable by living in a certain neighborhood or wearing hoodies.

A character from “It” by Stephen King is referred to as the “fat kid” who might get the “pretty girl.”

In reference to hospital janitors, a character says “Immigrants, they get the job done.” He’s referencing the musical Hamilton but is met with the response “That’s not less offensive because it’s Hamilton.”

Two men involved in a bar fight are described as “thugs”; their physical appearances are not described, but that particular word could be perceived as racially-motivated & offensive.


Chr*st / Chr*ss*kes
F*ck / F*cking
Good L*rd
H*ll / H*lluva
My G*d / Oh My G*d
Son of a b*tch

A bakery’s products are described as something that would “make you believe in G*d & willing to forsake Him at the same time.”


A character removes her shirt to show off her tattoos; her nakedness is mentioned as well as the sight of her “small breasts.”

Some of the characters go to a restaurant called Oh My Cod which is known for sexually suggestive decor & menu items, a few of which are described. Someone from the group refers to the restaurant as a “sex shop.”

Someone is called a “courteous porn star” in jest.

There’s a detailed discussion about methods of murder that give the killer sexual gratification (i.e. A certain movement while sitting atop a victim or the motion & penetration of a blade).

Two characters sleep together; the scene doesn’t fade to black, but their intimacy is described with minimal detail. In another chapter, they’re in bed together, but nothing happens beyond the two of them waking up side by side.

Two other characters sleep together off-page; it’s mentioned in a conversation with very little detail.

Stalking: There is evidence of one or more characters being stalked: robbery, phone calls, text messages with photos of front doors, & a physical attack.
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This is my first read from Sulari Gentill and I found it absolutely thrilling! 

This book is so hard to describe. I felt I was reading two thrillers at once and I couldn’t put this down! It opens with an email from Leo to Hannah, but between each email is a chapter of Hannah’s novel. Hannah’s protagonist, Winifred, is an Australian ex-pat living in America as a student and writer. One afternoon at the Boston Public Library, Winifred and the three people around her hear a scream. She soon befriends the group who was sitting at her table: Marigold, Whit, and Cain. They later find out that a woman died in the library that day and they are launched into a whodunnit. 

Between Winifred’s investigation into a more and more frightening series of events, Leo continues giving feedback to Hannah on her writing. 

The writing is just remarkable! I can’t do it justice. I loved every second of this book. Thank you to NetGalley and Poison Pen publishing for the opportunity to review this ARC.
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I have had this book on my wishlist from the moment I heard about it. Patiently waiting to get my hands on a copy. There is nothing I love more than a murder mystery, add in a library or books and I'm sold.

Imagine my happiness when I got my hands on the arc. I downloaded it immediately and dug in. And I didn't put it down until I read the last sentence!

I started off a bit confused. I read the description of the book when I added it to my wishlist. The description did not do this book justice. This book is so much more than what I thought it would be.

You follow a female author who, along with 3 strangers get "involved" (is that the right word for what happens? I'm not sure but good enough!) In a murder that happens in .... Can you guess??.... Yep a library. 

Woven in between their story is another story told in letters. Truly, while the 4 strangers story line is the main story of the book and is all absorbing, the letters.... omg the letters! 

This book was well written, engrossing and I couldn't stop reading bc I had to know the ending!
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This mystery will truly be catnip for lovers of mysteries and library fans alike. Kicking things off right away with a mysterious scream in said library, this story is filled with both classic mystery elements and novel twists. Increasing tension and a clever way of acknowledging the pandemic add a lot to the story. Hand this one to fans of Anthony Horowitz's Hawthorne and Horowitz series.
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Thank you Netgalley for the advanced digital copy of The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill in return for my honest review. 

There is a great deal of buzz around The Woman in the Library, and I was excited when I received a copy in advance of its release. While it is an entertaining read with a unique storytelling style, a book within a book, it was not at all what I had expected and it fell somewhat flat for me. I absolutely loved that the story within a story took place in Boston and that the initial murder occurred in the Boston Public Library. It really was fun that there were many recognizable streets, restaurants and landmarks mentioned. The setting almost seemed like another character. 

The book opens with a letter from an acquaintance, Leo, a Boston resident, who appeared to be helping Hannah, an author currently living in Australia due to the pandemic, fact check/edit chapters from her latest book. She has received some level of literary success, while Leo has not. Leo as a character becomes more and more ominous as the book progresses. I liked the idea of Leo, but to this reader, it was very confusing how Leo and Hannah were connected. Was he a jealous friend or a member of Hannah’s writing group? I have read that Leo was a deranged fan, but then how was he getting hold of the author’s manuscript? More clarification was needed as to their relationship.

As to Hannah’s current book, which is the bulk of the story, it seemed a little over the top for me. Characters who had just met in the library fall in love almost instantaneously, suspects are believed almost unconditionally, and the situations in which they find themselves were too unrealistic for me. That being said, it was a quick read and it held my interest. Go into this book without the hype and you may like it more than I did.
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Two fascinating stories for the price of one! 

The first story is set in the Boston Public library where 4 individuals working separately hear a scream. The resulting death bring the four together as they become determined to get to the bottom of the death. 

At the same time, there is a slow burn of a story between the author, based in Australia and a colleague who is performing some of the ground work and fact checking on the story. The friend checks out the library site and provides pictures and logistical info about Boston. The connection between the two becomes less and less clear as the story unfolds.  

If you like crime stories, meta fiction, unique plots or are just a Boston fan, this novel is for you! #PoisonedPen #NetGalley #TheWomanInTheLibrary
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Not exactly what I thought it would be like, honestly I'm not sure what I was expecting. This was such an interesting read, perfect for a book club pick.
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Winifred (Freddie) is an author who is sitting at a table in the Boston Public Library when a murder takes place.  While waiting for the police to let her leave she strikes up a conversation with the other three people at her table.  Marigold who is studying psychology, Whit who is a law student and Cain who happens to also be an author.  Could one of them be a murderer?  The four become friends but soon it seems they are being targeted or harassed. Freddie is falling in love with Cain but do any of them really know that much about each other?  The secondary story is told between Hannah an author and Leo an armchair editor who correspond through emails discussing a book that Hannah is writing a book about the woman in the library who was murdered.  A bunch of misdirection, an unreliable narrator in Freddie and not knowing how the emails fit in make for a tight little thriller that will have you sure that you know whodunnit until you don't know.  My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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I'm sorry to say this is probably my biggest book disappointment in a long while. I was very excited about this, so I was thrilled when Netgalley approved me for an early copy. Unfortunately my disappointment was almost immediate when I realized I'd misinterpreted the blurb (which I still feel is vaguely misleading) and assumed the entire book took place in the library during the lockdown. When the characters left at the end of Chapter 1, I was surprised but still willing to see where the story went.

Unfortunately it was only downhill from there. This book is actually two novels smashed together. The main story, the one in the blurb, feels like a standard and trope-filled thriller because... that's what it is. It's a novel being written by someone in the second story, which is told entirely through emails. We only see one side of the emails (with the exception of a few extra pieces of correspondence from a third party), so it feels like an extended monologue.

The result is that neither story feels engaging or complete on its own. Why would you make the decision to end every chapter with an unseen character dissecting what just happened? Leo, the email writer, is like an annoying friend who summarizes every chapter with theories, mistakes (the in-story author is Australian writing America), and suggesting possible changes. 

I think this novel wanted to be a meta exercise. A book about someone writing a book in which someone is writing a book. But it just doesn't work on any level. There's no reason to get invested in characters when you never have a chance to believe they're actual people. You know from page 1 that they're fictional characters in a story, so why do I care what happens to any of them?

The email sections are also just a... bad, bad idea. It might have worked as a short story by itself, but it was flat, extremely predictable, heavy handed, and ended with an anticlimactic thud. 

By the time it finally reveals the truth about the title character and the scream, you don't care. The resolution isn't particularly clever or interesting, it just... is.
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My first book to read by this author but definitely not my last! Such a gripping novel that made it hard for me to put his book down once I started it. Highly recommend!!
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I've been a fan of Sulari Gentill's historical mysteries for ages and I hope there's going to be other Rowan Sinclair novels.
That said I liked this novel but i didn't love it. It's well written, the different genres work well together, and the characters are fleshed out.
That said it kept me hooked but it wasn't one of those I-HAD-TO-READ-IT-IN-ONE-SITTING novel as I found a bit forced at times.
As I think I had too high expectations it's recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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The Woman in the Library is a smart, engaging and unputdownable mystery that surprises and intrigues in equal measure. The story within a story element of the book was clever, gradually built tension and moved the plot in a way that was exciting and fresh. As a reader you pick up on the subtext you’re meant to pick up on and you spend each page analysing the main characters to unravel the whodunnit. Great storytelling and commentary on writing and writers. Thoroughly enjoyed.
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Superb literary thriller and an unique storytelling as a book inside of a book, make this one an endearing and fascinating read. My first but definitely not my last novel of Aussie author Sulari Gentill. 

Thank you NetGalley / Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Firstly, I am thankful for the opportunity to have received a free advanced copy of this Ebook through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

This was a very interesting book, it is kind of like a book within a book.  4 people sitting in a library at a reading table, all strangers.  Then a blood curdling scream is heard through the library, and everyone is on lockdown while the matter gets investigated.  The 4 strangers become friends through this incident.
The characters are interesting and the book is definitely a page turner.  There’s a lot going while you try to figure out who did what.  And I didn’t guess the ending.

I rate this Ebook 4 Stars.

#TheWomanInTheLibrary #NetGalley
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THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY  is a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer for the reader. In this page-turning who-done-it, Sulari Gentill weaves two tales. In the main story line, seated at a reading table in the Boston Public Library, are Winifred Kincaid (Freddie), a well-known novelist and three others, all strangers who become the characters in her new mystery: Cain McLeod, Handsome One, Marigold Anastas, Freud Girl, and Whit Metters, Heroic Chin.
     Wait until you meet these four: who they say they are, who they might be, and who they really are. As they are making introductions and chatting, a woman somewhere inside the library lets loose with a blood curdling scream, and the story is off to a wild beginning. Security guards lock down the building. A woman’s body is found, and the hunt begins for the murderer. At different times, I suspected all of characters of committing the crime.
     The subplot is written throughout the book in emails between Hannah, the real author, an Australian living in Boston, and American-born Leo, a book editor who advises her. He sends his suggestions for changes along with Boston locale tidbits such as the names of streets, eateries, and shops. But then he begins to include gruesome crime scene photos. Could he have done it?
     One of my favorites is a minor character, Mrs. Weinbaum, who pretends to be whoever she wants to be, including a doctor. My only disappointment is that only the beginning scene takes place in the library. A reading group guide and an interview with the author are located at the back of the book. Crime novel fans will love this tightly-woven mystery.
     Publication date is June 7, 2022. Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press, for the opportunity to read and review this creative book.
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I only heard about this novel a few days ago, but immediately felt compelled to read it. Maybe it was the Boston setting or the fact I love mysteries & libraries, but this 5 star suspenseful novel didn’t disappoint. In fact once I started reading this deviously wonderful novel, I couldn’t put it down - I stayed up until 3 am until was finished. The author delivers book within a book with tons of false clues and red herrings worthy of Agatha Christie.
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I had such high hopes for this novel based on the description.  I didn't expect it to be a story within a story type of novel.

It took me a while to get used to the flow and the dual points of view.  But once the flow and narrative was established, it became a tedious read.

The characters are fleshed out enough to get a feel for their personalities and I liked how the author tagged them with nicknames such as Heroic Chin, and Freud Girl to make them easily identifiable.  While the method of nicknaming the characters was cute, I still didn't care or found any of them likable or relatable.

The story is a whodunnit with the added complexity of a third party behind the scenes.  Hard to describe the plotline because the main story falls within the framework of a fan critiquing the narrative.  And because of this, I just could not understand how each story tied together at the end.  And as far as determining the who in the whodunnit, it was a simple process of elimination and I was disappointed that there weren't any twists or turns that made for an exciting read.

Overall,  The Woman in the Library was decent.  It wasn't what I was expecting.  But I wouldn't rule out any of the author's future works.  Two okay stars.

I received a digital ARC from Poisoned Pen Press through NetGalley.  The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.
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A story within a story, a murderer, a writer... and a relationship that will change their lives. This story is told in two ways- through the manuscript written by author Hannah and her email correspondence with “Leo.” The manuscript follows the story of four people in a library who hear a scream only to discover it is a murdered woman... and soon more bodies start dropping and the secret past of one of the individuals might put them all in harms way. The story follows Freddie ( main protagonist of the manuscript, an author looking to write her next book), White ( a failing law student), Cain ( a handsome author with a dark past), and Marigold ( tattooed psych student with a tendency to stalk people out of concern). These four strangers bond over an afternoon at the Boston library and slowly become friends, but more bodies start dropping and the four begin to question who is doing the killing and when one of them is attacked and they find connections between the victims and one of the members of the friend group suddenly they don’t know who could be next and who is the killer. Now onto the other portion of this book, it follows the email correspondence between famous Australian author Hannah Tigone and a “friend” named Leo, which each email Hannah sends Leo a new chapter of her book and he sends her feedback, but soon his feedback gets more sinister and dark and Hannah will have to figure out who he is and what is truly going on. This book was two mysteries in one and absolutely a fun read! I loved the formatting style and the way the mystery unfolded. Its a great read for fans of mystery novels!

*Thanks Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
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Four strangers meet in the magnificent Boston Public Library.  Little do they know that a disruptive scream emitting from a murder victim would bind them together.  Freddie, Cain, Whit and Marigold become friends, some with bookish connections.  Meanwhile, Leo provides a bit of chilly darkness in the form of emails which provide a very interesting and telling layer.  Various events occur and secrets are revealed as the story evolves.

Unique books are normally my wheelhouse.  Whilst the rollercoaster ride of a story is beguiling, the characters feel a bit shallow, immature and unconvincing.  The double story idea is a wonderful concept but for me it is not as successfully done as I had hoped.  Still, it was worth the picking up for the ups and downs, ins and outs!  And who can resist a library setting?  I also really like Gentill's writing style, especially in her Rowland Sinclair series.

Readers eager for an original reading experience ought to read and enjoy this for what it adventure.

My sincere thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this unusual book!
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I feel bad doing this, but this is going in my DNF pile. I’ll try to finish it another time, but I couldn’t do it. 

I though this was going to be a horror book, but it was a lot of mystery/who done it-ish?
According to NetGalley, I made it to 20%. I tried, but this wasn’t the book for me.

The inception book inside of a book thing didn’t grab me. The old school gumshoe Agatha Christie writing with a little Stranger then Fiction mixed in. If that’s your cup I’d tea, read this book. Based on the other reviews it got better halfway in, but I have so many books to read and so little time that I don’t have 150 pages to waste before I can get pulled in-unless you’re Stephen King. 
I’ve never written a negative review, and I feel awful in case the publisher/author reads this, so I’ll just say it wasn’t my cup of tea. 
Of what I read, it took too long to get to where the book should be going. 20% finished and we don’t know anything about the woman that was “killed?” in the beginning? It’s all about four strangers that magically become bffs when meeting for 2 minutes. Their lives become mysteriously intertwined that just seems too simple. Two of the characters are writers, and after seeing their connection, the other two are like, “yeah I’ll write too. Invite me everywhere. We want to hang too.” It seemed forced and I’m guessing there’s a reason for it, but I couldn’t drag it on further to read why. 

If a reader wants to tell me that it’s worth the wait, and it gets better, I’ll finish it for sure, but until then, I’m not sure I can go on.
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