Sulari Gentill's The Woman in the Library takes the intriguing form of a mystery novel embedded within a sinister crime drama, offering thrill-seeking readers a double dose of literary suspense.
Australian author Hannah Tigone is working on her latest book, a mystery set in present-day Boston. She shares her work with American writer Leo Johnson, a devoted fan who has offered to critique it. In chapters containing excerpts from Hannah's manuscript and Leo's correspondence with her, Gentill draws readers into the heart of Hannah's novel: four strangers seated in the reading room of the Boston Public Library hear a loud scream. While officials investigate, the four strangers begin to talk and develop a friendship. Freddie, the story's female narrator, is the recipient of a prestigious writing fellowship; Marigold and Whit are students at Harvard; and Cain is an author whose first novel was a literary sensation. When a woman's body is discovered, the four new friends come under suspicion, and Freddie is suddenly unsure whom to trust.
A celebrated writer of historical mysteries and contemporary thrillers, Gentill (A Murder Unmentioned; Gentlemen Formerly Dressed) crafts a series of uncanny plot twists that will delight Agatha Christie fans. Leo's letters to Hannah gradually take on a menacing tone at the same time that Freddie struggles to solve the murder in the library, and the lines between what is fiction and what is real become frighteningly blurred. As readers reach the suspenseful conclusion to Hannah's novel, it becomes shockingly clear she is facing the same danger as the characters she created. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer