Friday 23 September 2022


Book review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill [blog tour]

With the amount of murder mysteries that have come out lately, it feels like we're in the second golden age of detective fiction – and I am all here for it. I've found a renewed love for Agatha Christie, and I'm thrilled that more and more 'locked room' style whodunnits are being published to continue to feed my addiction. This year alone I've had the pleasure to read The Maid by Nita Prose, Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare, A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle, and now The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill. My interest for this book was first sparked by the striking cover and title, and after the turning the final page I am glad that I can say that the story fully lived up to my high expectations.

Winifred Kincaid, aka Freddie, is a writer observing the people around her at the Boston Public Library when a scream permeates the air. She's unsure at first of its significance, but this event does open up the conversation between her and the three people surrounding her. An unexpected friendship is born between Freddie, fellow writer Cain, and students Marigold and Whit. And when they learn that a woman was murdered in the library when the scream sounded, suddenly their newfound friendship becomes much more intense as they try to figure out what happened. 

This quartet of individuals are characters in the new novel of bestselling Australian crime writer Hannah Tigone. Hannah, who is sharing snippets of new pages of the book as she's writing with her number one fan Leo, and even includes a character with his name within the story. But as Freddie and her new friends get closer to uncovering who murdered the woman in the library, Leo gets closer to Hannah – and not in a good way. His letters become increasingly obsessive and the things he talks about more disturbing. 

Suddenly it's not just the foursome that are in danger as they try to uncover the truth, but Hannah herself is no longer safe either...

The Woman in the Library is the epitome of a locked room style murder mystery and what a wonderful locked room it is, a library! This is the ultimate setting for a book lover and I it was a delight to explore and discover the Boston Public Library through the pages of Sulari Gentill's novel. I've never been there myself, but it's certainly a location I now want to go to one day as well. 

Freddie was a great protagonist to keep readers engrossed throughout the whodunnit. She was wonderfully observant as a writer yet also felt incredibly out of her depth as she was in a city she didn't know very well, with people she'd only recently met. This meant that various characters around her became suspect at different times and even though most of her suspects and investigations turned out to be red herrings, they felt genuine and turned this into a true page-turner as both Freddie and the reader were trying to uncover the truth. 

And I haven't even touched upon the sinister storyline between Hannah and Leo. I absolutely adore the "book-within-a-book" format (my favourites being Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, two brilliant examples of murder mysteries) – and in this particular case it added a sense of threat and urgency to the book. Freddie's story was more of a classic brainteaser type of whodunnit (although there were some unexpectedly brutal moments too), but Hannah's scenes were more gritty. An interesting combination, and one that keeps readers on their toes throughout. 

I absolutely loved The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill. It was a very clever whodunnit which, with the book-within-a-book format, felt unique and unexpected even within its genre. Despite being an avid reader of murder mysteries, I didn't see the majority of the final reveals coming and I love it when a book like this can still take me by surprise as it's a very satisfying reading experience. 

Smart, compelling, and unpredictable, The Woman in the Library 100% lives up to its intriguing title and it is a must-read for all lovers of locked room murder mysteries.  

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill is published by Ultimo Press and you can now buy a copy from your favourite book shop!

Blog tour stops for The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

This review for The Woman in the Library is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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