“The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill

Genre: Murder MysteryThe woman in the library
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Pub. Date: June 7, 2022

A fictional author named Hannah is writing a novel about three undergraduate students and one graduate student, two men, and two women, who meet in the library and quickly become good friends. Two of the characters are writers. One of them is writing a novel based on the experiences of the other three, which makes for a confusing plot. However, I can say that the actual author, Sulari Gentill, gives us good insight into a writer’s process of creating a story.

During their first time in the library, the students hear a piercing scream and learn that a female college student is found dead. For me, even with drug addiction and violence, this still reads like a Nancy Drew mystery. The amateur detectives become romantic partners, adding to the characters’ adolescent-like behavior. To be fair, the novel does highlight the claim that all novels are romance stories. Still, their dialogue reads as if they are 14-years-old. Especially, the females who talk about their love interests as if they were at a junior high sleepover.

In the secondary plot, we are reading a narrative of a story within a story. This is the most creative part of the book (though it certainly has been done before). The book begins with a letter from Leo, a Boston research assistant who is assisting Australian author Hannah with information for her novel that takes place in Boston. Eventually, Hannah creates Ben as a character in her novel about the students who hear the scream. I know it’s interesting but it is also perplexing to follow. As long as you remember that Hannah and Leo are both Gentil’s characters you will be fine.

If you enjoy the idea of a novel within a novel then you might enjoy this book. In the tale, Gentil is witty when writing about writers. Still, “Library” wasn’t for me. I never cared for Nancy Drew once I left my early teens. But, if you like murder mysteries you may want to give this one a try. I did not guess who the murderer was until near the end.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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