Cover Image: The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was pretty unique; the author uses an interesting framing method for this and I thought it worked fairly well. There was confusion at the beginning, but as I kept reading it started to make more sense. The mystery was fun, but a bit rushed on the character development; you’re left wondering how they could all possibly become so close, so quickly.
Was this review helpful?
Excellent mystery involving 4 young people who hear a scream in the library.
Freddie, is an Australian writer on fellowship to Boston. She gets involved in the finding the person who murdered the woman later found in the library.
At the end of each chapter is a letter the reader assumes is her editor . As the story goes along the reader learns something quite different. The letter writer corrects The Australian words for American words which adds culture to the book.
The ending will surprise some who don’t follow closely.
Was this review helpful?
Sadly this book was not what I was expecting, I didn't end up finishing the book as I just couldn't get into it and didn't really connect with any character. I know others who have read it and truly loved it but it was not for me
Was this review helpful?
A pretty engaging mystery that kept me turning the pages. I really liked the framing device, but I wish there had been more of it. I think that story was actually more interesting than the main plot, but we only get little snippets of it. Overall, though, a satisfying read.
Was this review helpful?
A scream in the Boston Public Library sets off this tale. Four people sharing a table at the time of the scream (and murder) develop a bond after the event. One of the tablemates is a young Australian author in the states on a writing grant. She and the others try to figure out what happened. The characters are quirky and the atmosphere is great. There is a story within the story with a "penpal" that made me quite anxious. This book kept me on the edge of my seat. Enjoy
Was this review helpful?
This book's format was a surprise to me, but I think that made the story so much better. Based on the description, I thought it would be just another murder mystery. But the story is framed as a draft of a murder novel, being critiqued by another author chapter by chapter. This really elevated the story to another level. The only thing I didn't like was that reading Leo's comments made my English major brain enter "peer review mode," so I found myself being very critical of the writing too. Ironically, I was reading an ARC so I don't know if some of the things that bugged me were intentional typos or awkward wording (since the chapters are supposed to be drafts after all) or if they will be corrected before the final printing.

I didn't understand several of the characters and their motivations (especially how they became friends so quickly and were so trusting of each other), but that made them all the more interesting. The ending felt unfinished which made me dissatisfied, but at the same time I can't stop thinking about where these characters might end up. Definitely recommend for fans of mysteries/thrillers!

Thank you to Netgalley, Sourcebooks, Poisoned Pen Press, and Sulari Gentill for an ebook ARC in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
As a retired librarian, I was immediately drawn to this book by its title. With a daughter living in Boston, learning the library in question was the renowned Boston Public Library, made it even more appealing to me. The city of Boston as the setting plays an important part in the story, but, as it turns out, this book is a murder mystery which only tangentially involves the library. 
That is not to say I felt betrayed by this shift in focus. The story begins with four strangers, seated together at a table in the BPL, who hear a scream in an adjacent room and immediately begin sharing ideas on the cause of the scream. When it is determined there has been a murder and they all want to investigate further, these four individuals become a cohesive group and from then on, their lives intertwine in many ways. 
The story is told in the first person by a successful young Australian writer, in Boston as a result of winning a prestigious fellowship. Rather than present the story as a straightforward narrative, the plot is interrupted periodically by letters from another writer, evidently not as successful as his colleague, who happens to be in Boston and offers to do research on the city and American customs. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that Freddie the Australian author  in the story was located in Boston and Hannah the Australian author receiving the letters was in Australia. How much of Freddie’s story was actually Hannah’s is a question with which  I am still wrestling. 
From the first letter to Hannah there was an “ick” factor to Lou the would-be researcher. I’m not sure if that was intentional or the result of some gaps in the research of the actual author. A number of his criticisms about American culture, especially his observations on North Carolina, just didn’t jibe with my experience although he offered them with complete certainty. As the story develops, our opinion of Lou begins to crystallize and he becomes part of the plot. 
The mystery of who killed Carolyn and why propels the story but since we never met her while she was alive and the author does little to flesh out her character, my interest was purely academic. I never was motivated by a need for justice for the victim. 
One major negative in this book was the way the actual author uses the critiques of Lou to heap praise upon her writing. As the primary rule of every good book is “show, don’t tell,” I found myself annoyed by the unctuous compliments given in  this story within a story. This may have been the author’s intention all along, but it kept me from fully embracing the book.
By the time the author is finished with us, we have tried on each of the characters for the role of murderer. The story moves at a lively pace and I don’t feel I wasted my time,  but I do think if the players in this mystery had been written with more subtlety, the book would have been more than just a formulaic mystery.
Thanks to Netgalley for providing this book for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Whew, this one was a wild ride, and I'm not sure I fully enjoyed it??

To start, this book is kind of like an inception of sorts. We're reading a novel about a writer who's writing her own book while the leading novelist gets feedback from a colleague via email—confused yet? It's okay; it won't take long for the premise to become apparent. And I have to admit that I actually loved the plot within a plot aspect.

The downsides for me were that I really didn't feel any connection to any of the characters. I don't think anyone was particularly well developed, and I found myself not invested in any of them. Another issue was the lack of a plausible conclusion. I feel there were many unanswered questions and subplots that I was expecting would get delved into more and were not. 

Overall, the writing style was different, and I loved it. The plot, also awesome. Points taken for lack of character substance and disappointing ending. I also hope the myriad of grammatical and spelling errors will be fixed before publication.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book so much I can't stop talking about it.  I love the fresh and creative plot.  I couldn't put it down.  I grew attached to Freddie, Marigold, and handsome Cain.  Interesting that I wasn't drawn to Whit. Perhaps the fabulous author wrote it that way.  At the end, I found myself let down.  Not because of the ending, but because I will miss those characters and lively plot so much.  My prediction is that this will be the blockbuster of the Summer.
Was this review helpful?
A fantastic whodunnit with a story in a story.  4 writers meet in a library and start talking when they hear a scream.  The body is missing.  They meet for coffee and discuss the case.  One of the characters Freddie decides to write a book about the incident using her new friends as characters.  Which is the killer? 

An entertaining read I would recommend to any mystery book club.
Was this review helpful?
THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY has a good mystery at its core– four strangers are present when a blood curdling scream disrupts everything in the grand Reading Room of the Boston Public Library.  However, the novel has too many layers.  It’s a novel about a woman writing a book about a woman writing a book.  The characters who heard the scream, Freddie, Cain, Marigold, and Whit are all interesting, but the correspondence between Hannah ( the author of the book in which Freddie is also an author) and Leo, an overbearing fan,  that comes at the end of each chapter, is very distracting and really took me out of the main story.  There are also two characters named Leo– the aforementioned fan and his “namesake” in the book on which he is providing (annoying) commentary.  It’s all a bit much.  Yes, it leads to something, but it’s all unnecessary.  If the author had stayed focused on the central mystery, I wouldn’t have had to keep recalibrating in my mind.
Was this review helpful?
4.5/5- Thank you to netgalley for the Advanced readers Copy! I was interested in reading this book as both a Bostonian and a librarian. Describing this book to others sounds like a fever dream. This is a story that is being written as the book goes on. Hannah is writing the story and each chapter is a chapter of the manuscript (freddie the main character seems like a self insert for Hannah). At the end of each chapter there is a letter from Leo, a beta reader from Boston who loves Hannah's previous work. As the book goes on both stories start to unravel. It is fascinating to read. 
I devoured this book in about two days. Anyone who like books that are formatted in a different way and that contain a mystery inside another mystery will like this book. There were so many twists and turns and every time I thought I had caught on to where it was going it zagged a different way. I can't say much more about why I loved it without spoiling the book. So you'll have to trust me when I say I loved it and you need to read it. 
So if I loved it so much why wasn't it five stars. There is a few smallest reasons. First, the ending felt very abrupt and I am still a little confused on the details. I feel like there should  have been an epilogue or something for the manuscript story and maybe a letter from Hannah to Leo. The ending just felt incomplete to a certain extent. The other reason and hopefully this is corrected before publication is that there are some Boston details that are incorrect and I am still unsure if that was intention or not. The two that stuck out was the area of Boston is Allston not Alston, and the 57 and 86 busses do not go to or from Harvard and Copley square. These are minor or non-issues for non-Bostonians but something from Boston will definitely notice.
Overall, this issues I had with the text are so minor to how fun and thrilling the book is! I definitely recommend it to thriller lovers and all readers alike with it comes out in May.
Was this review helpful?
Shout out to @sularigentill for writing a mystery one doesn’t want to put down…

Gentill has created a unique story here - don’t want to give too much away but we have a Boston based mystery/mysteries! beginning at our iconic @bplboston - sign me up (always)! Now to check out Gentill’s backlist…

Highly recommend for mystery book lovers!
Was this review helpful?
I truly enjoyed the format of “The Woman In The Library,” which featured a murder mystery and a story within a story. On the outer shell, you have letters written from a pen pal/fan/aspiring writer named Leo to Hannah, an established author who is sending him chapters of her current work in progress.

As the letters from Leo progress through the book, you start to feel a tension rise and curiosity about where exactly his mindset is evolving. 

In between the letters, we get to read the chapters that Hannah is sending to Leo, which involve the murder mystery of a woman found dead in the Boston Public Library, and four characters who happen to be at the library at the same time, forging a tentative friendship that draws them in to the mystery and entangles them together as more and more threatening events occur. 

Once I understood and got into the rhythm of the format of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed both storylines, turning the pages eagerly to see how everything was going to turn out.

I had the dual desire to both savor the book as well as quickly devour it in order to find out what was going to happen. The ending was to me satisfying and made sense looking back at all the clues we’d been given. 

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for this free ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Oh I do love a book within a book. I finished this book so long ago and haven't had time to write it up and have been wanting to because I want lots of people to read it.

It starts with a murder, a young woman is murdered in the Boston Public Library. As an aside, if you haven't ever been there, it is the most glorious building and I was so pleased I'd been as I could just picture this whole scenario rolling out. Anyway, back to the story, there are four people sitting silently at the tables in the reading room, they are Freddie, Whit, Cain, and Marigold, strangers to each other until the moment when a scream shatters the silence, they begin to chat as they are held inside the library while the murder is investigated, and become friends. Each has a backstory that eventually comes to light over the coming weeks as they chat and get to know each other and become involved in each other's lives. Alongside investigating the murder themselves.

Freddie is writing a crime novel, she sends this to an independent reader who gives her feedback chapter by chapter. As real-life begins to infiltrate the pages of the book it becomes difficult to tell which is the fiction and which is the true story. Feedback is given by Leo who suddenly appears in the novel as well as in real life. Are you with me? It's complicated. And yet it is all so logical and easy to read while it is happening. There is layer after layer, suspicion rests upon every character and Freddie gets drawn into the mystery in the most delicious ways.

I loved this book. Whipped through it while wanting to savor it. It made me think and kept my brain busy while I read. What a great story and I'm so pleased I was able to read it. Thanks so NetGalley and the publisher for giving me access, can't wait to read another twisty tale from this author.
Was this review helpful?
I really loved this book! The pacing and the characters keep you hooked throughout and the mystery dangles in front of you every chapter so that you can't put the book down. I loved how the story and the characters slowly unraveled throughout the book through subtle looks and specific word choices. I especially loved the character of Leo, the one who is helping the author, with the specific world events and social happenings that he chooses to focus his letters on. 

For anyone who is a lover of mysteries this is definitely a book to have.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, a surprising novel that starts off with a whisper and grows into a scream as chilling as the one heard in the library. The manuscript is raw and suggested edits from her American informant Leo adds a new layer to this novel. The novel breaks the fourth wall, by removing the reader from the manuscript and into the behind the scenes of the novel writing process. The sub-plot of the emails from Leo and his obsession are riveting and brings a snapshot of what was happening in the world in 2020.  An original take on a traditional mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie’s novels. The manuscript leaves lots of room for addition and I would loved to have known what was added or changed in the final edits. Leo’s menacing last email is haunting and leaves the reader wanting more of Leo’s story. The identity of the murderer was a surprise, through the novel the reader is given many red herrings. A book that belongs on the library shelf and breathes new life into the mystery genre.  Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for this exciting ARC all opinion are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A woman’s scream and the discovery of a body in the Boston Public Library unites four strangers who are working in the library’s reading room at the time.  Is one of them also a murderer?

The Woman in the Library is an interesting book.  It’s a story within a story and it is written brilliantly.  Each of the four people involved in the plot are unique individuals and the twists that occur will keep the reader on his toes.  I would classify it as a smart mystery as well as clever and imaginative.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Woman in the Library and will recommend it to others.  

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
Was this review helpful?
What a fun read! Many red herrings and interesting structure in the writing. This book had me guessing the whole time.
Was this review helpful?
A thriller that takes place in a library? Count me in! The Woman in the Library starts off strong with a captivating plot and enjoyable characters. When four individuals sit down at a table at the Boston Public Library, a terrified scream is heard amongst the stacks. While the library’s patrons wait for the all-clear, these four individuals pass the time and develop a friendship of sorts. It just so happens that one of these individuals is a murderer.

There is an additional story-in-story plot which is interesting, but a bit confusing to follow at first. This “story” involves one of the four individuals who chooses to write a book about what happened in the library. In addition to the story-in-a-story plot, a mysterious early reader/fan of the narrator's work named Leo sends feedback in the form of letters that are downright alarming in the best way. These letters definitely kept me turning pages, but the rest of the novel fell a bit flat for me. The main character is naive and the dialogue is a bit cringy. Some elements of the story did not seem believable. There are so many moving parts that I had a difficult time keeping track of what was in the story-in-story and what was real, and I selfishly wish, as a library worker, that more of the novel took place in the Boston Public Library. While unfortunately, the format for The Woman in the Library did not work for me, other readers may enjoy it for its unique plot.

Warning: the storyline mentions the COVID-19 pandemic.
Was this review helpful?