Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

 

Title: The Woman in the Library

Author: Sulari Gentill

Published: 7th June 2022, Poisoned Pen Press

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Poisoned Pen Press/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

 

Metafiction is a rare narrative technique, and often difficult to execute successfully, but The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill does so with ease, offering a clever and compelling mystery novel.

In this story within a story (within a story), Australian author Hannah Tigone is writing a murder mystery, inspired in part by her correspondence with American aspiring author and fan, Leo Johnson. In Hannah’s developing manuscript, Australian author Winifred ‘Freddie’ Kincaid, is in Massachusetts on a writers’ scholarship, when she becomes embroiled in a murder mystery that takes place in the Boston Public Library. As Hannah completes each chapter, Leo provides feedback via emails, the tone of which grow more imperious, and disturbing, as the story develops in ways he doesn’t like.

As Freddie, along with psychology student Marigold, law student Whit, and published author Cain whom she meets when a scream disturbs the quiet of the Boston Public Library Reading Room, tries to solve the murder of a young journalist, it’s testament to Gentill’s skill that I was invested in the story, and often forgot it’s place in the novel’s structure, in fact I occasionally resented the reminder when disrupted by Leo’s missives. With its air of a ‘locked room’ mystery, I was deftly led astray by Gentill’s misdirects, and found myself eager to discover who, how, and why the murder was committed.

I feel I have to mention the adroit way in which Gentill navigated the world events of 2019/2020, the years in which this book was set, with the CoVid pandemic, the BLM protests in the US, and the fires that ravaged the Eastern coast of Australia, all acknowledged in interesting ways.

Ingenious and intriguing, The Woman in the Library is a terrific read.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Jun 19, 2022 @ 19:06:57

    I hsve this on my Kindle. A favourite author of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. laurareadingbooksagain
    Jun 19, 2022 @ 23:09:34

    I like books that incorporate current world events in the plot. It makes the book read more realistically.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  4. Northwoman
    Jun 20, 2022 @ 01:56:43

    I enjoyed the unique style of this one also. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Helen Murdoch
    Jun 21, 2022 @ 02:52:12

    Stories within stories are always fun and complicated. This sounds like it was done well.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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