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.