Sulari Gentill’s latest suspense novel The Woman in the Library is an interesting book within a book. The book is narrated from the first-person perspective by Freddie (Winifred Kincaid), a Boston-based Australian author who received a Sinclair Fellowship to write a novel. There is another story woven between the chapters of Freddie’s experiences; a series of letters from Leo to his favorite author, Hannah Tigone.
The book begins with Leo’s letter to Hannah about her latest novel and its ongoing publication efforts. Freddie’s story is written by Hannah as the reader progresses through the book. Sitting in the Boston Public Library’s famous reading room, Freddie tries to begin her novel. Sitting at their table are Heroic Chin (Whit), Handsome Man (Cain) and Freud Girl (Marigold). She is writing descriptions of her three roommates as characters in her novel when they all hear a woman scream. Security is telling everyone to remain seated while the scream is investigated. The four strangers strike up a conversation and understand each other. When the all-clear is sounded, they go out to eat at a restaurant and form a quick friendship from their odd afternoon.
The next morning, Freddie is alarmed to learn that a dead woman has been discovered in the library, and the four strangers try to talk about it.
They learn the woman’s identity and that she is connected to Whit. The four strangers, now friends, can’t help but do their research and solve the murder. Everyone has mysteries surrounding the events of that afternoon.
As Freddie tries to navigate this new friendship and the differences between American and Australian society, she learns secrets about the others.
The story within the story, the communication between Leo and Hannah takes an odd turn when Hannah inserts Leo into the story as Freddie’s neighbor and fellow Sinclair fellow.
You begin to see the real Leo (on the letters) begin to offer criticism and advice to Hannah, the published author. The lion who is Freddie’s neighbor is very helpful and scary at the same time.
When Whit is stabbed outside his home, Freddie realizes someone knows about them and threatens/warns them. As secrets are revealed, Freddie must decide if she can trust Cain, Whit and Marigold.
How can she trust them when she knows one of them is the killer? But how could one of the four table companions be the killer when they were all sitting together in the reading room when the woman screamed?
This is a great page turner. who is guilty who is innocent Who hides what he really knows? This is another mystery well worth the time you spend reading it. I’ve never read this author, but she definitely made my list of authors to read.
Susan McKinney is Librarian at St Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library. She received her Masters in Library Science from the University of Illinois. She came here from Indiana for grad school and fell in love with the area.