Two of the Five Books listed as finalists for the Edgar Award this year: Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

I have taken a short break from Japanese literature because guess what? Our library has all five of the five books listed for the Edgar Award’s Best Novel. Really, it is nothing short of a miracle, and as all five of them are in my hands at the moment, I decided I must go ahead and read each one.

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham was excellent. I actually cared more about the girl who was discovered hiding in a secret room, coming out only to feed two chained up dogs when she felt she couldn’t be found, than I did about the murder of a teen-aged figure skating champion named Jodie.

The characterization in this novel was fabulous, particularly the relationship which was forged between the traumatized girl, Evie, and a psychologist named Cyrus. He was strong enough, and compassionate enough, to provide a safe place for her, for he, too, knew what it was to have endured a most terrible tragedy as a child.

So, Jodie’s body is found in the path. Suspects are interviewed. The murderer is found, and it is all done quite skillfully. But, it is Evie and Cyrus who will remain foremost in my mind for a long, long time.

In many ways, The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths could be thought of as similar to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. There is a school, Talgarth High, around which murders happen, and a delicious gothic feel to the whole academic environment. But, it did not strike me nearly as powerfully as The Secret History, a novel I most assuredly admired.

The Stranger Diaries is based on the ghost story entitled, The Stranger, written by a R. M. Holland, a writer who used to live at the school about one hundred years ago. His study was on the top floor of the Old Building, and it is within his study that he seems to appear again one autumnal night.

The Stranger depicts a marvelous portion in which initiates to the Hell Club must climb blindfolded, with a candle, to the first floor landing’s window. There, they had to light their candles and shout, “Hell is empty!” Only then could they remove their blindfolds and return to their friends for feasting and revelry.

“Hell is empty and the devils are here,” is a line taken from The Tempest. It is an oft repeated refrain throughout this book, and perhaps my favorite part, for truly, I found the story of the murders themselves rather mundane.

Tonight I will begin Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland, as I make my way through all five nominations. The winner will be announced in New York City on April 30, 2020, but I will be sure to tell you my favorite long before that.

13 thoughts on “Two of the Five Books listed as finalists for the Edgar Award this year: Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths”

  1. So impressed that you have all 5 of these books and intend to read them! You know me – mystery lover deluxe. That being said, I often have not read the books nominated for the Edgar. Sometimes I have. The two you’ve mentioned above are both on my Kindle, but I have not read them yet. I will say that both authors are favorites of mine for particular mystery series. Elly Griffiths for her Ruth Galloway series ( love it!) and Michael Robotham for his Joe O’Loughlin series. These books are both standalones for these authors. Enjoy your crime fiction reading!


    1. Kay, I know that you are a Mystery Maven beyond compare, and it is no surprise to me that you have read both Griffiths and Robotham before while this was my first introduction to both of them. I far preferred Michael Robotham’s book which has stayed with me ever since I finished it. I am eager to see which will win the prize, now that I have begunFake Like Me and love that one, too. (So far.)


  2. The Edgar is a domestic award for domestically published books. Thus your local public library has access to them as they are published. Unless they are first time novels by a small or self publish press, they will probably be bought.

    You tend to read for foreign language prizes. Those awards are focused upon foreign markets. They may or may not have a US publisher at the time, and may never have one. Thus your local public library does not have access to them at the time you are reading for the prize. Unless, of course, someone donates their copy.

    My obeservation is that the publishers of some if not all of these titles are in search of an American publisher, thus they have pulled strings to get their books on the prize list. Prizes are very politcal these days.

    These things are not the libraries’ fault. Unless the titles are very obscure, or don’t fit any library’s clientele, they will eventually become available, at least through interlibrary loan.

    Not very helpful for reading for the prizes in a timely manner, but…..

    Have patience, and someday you will probably be rewarded.


    1. Abby, you make good points. However, in my heart of hearts I feel that the libraries of today are into any other area than books. Tutoring, media, courses…all to the good. Books no longer seem to have the priority they once did. For example, I found a first edition Kafka on The Shore by Haruki Murakami on their used book shelf in sale for $1.00. However, they did buy it at one time! Fortunately for me, publishers overseas are willing to send me books to review. Sadly, that doesn’t bode well for US citizens who wish to read them.


  3. I enjoyed the Griffiths book. Definitely not as wonderful as Tartt’s novel, but definitely a solid read. I thought it was fun to read, but definitely predictable. The Robotham book sounds really good. I’ll have to check it out. Great reviews 🙂


    1. This book is my least favorite of the four I’ve read so far which have been nominated for the Edgar Award. I am not that impressed by Elly Griffith, but that could be in part because she is against such stiff competition in the list.


  4. I’ve read a few of Elly Griffiths’ *Ruth Galloway* series, but not this one. It and the Robotham book sound wonderful! I’ve just picked up a copy of The Janes (by Louisa Luna) at my library this afternoon. It’s the second in the series – I loved, loved, loved Two Girls Down. I love literary fiction, but I really love a great mystery!


    1. I highly recommend the Robotham book. This is the first time I’ve read his work, and it was mesmerizing. The characterization was just wonderful, I am still pondering the characters and their relationship in my mind. I love a great mystery, too! (Right now, The River has me riveted.)


  5. I was tempted to try The Stranger Diaries, but now I’m not s sure.
    Incidentally, the next book by Louise Penny in her Gamache Series, coming out on September 1st will have the title The Devils are Here.


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