The Woman in the Library

Poisoned Pen. Jun. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781728261942. $26.99; pap. ISBN 9781464215872. $16.99. M
Writer Freddie Kincaid studies the people sharing her table at the Boston Public Library, naming them “Freud Girl,” “Heroic Chin,” and “Handsome Man.” They hear a scream and learn that a woman has been murdered—that’s when Freddie says one of them is a killer. The subsequent story is Freddie’s account of her growing friendship with those three, attacks on two of them, and the growing awareness that one is attacking the others. But Hannah Tignone, a best-selling Australian author, is actually writing the story of Freddie and her new friends. The story within a story alternates Hannah’s writing with letters written to her by a wannabe author, Leo, who suggests changes to Hannah’s plot and characters. Freddie’s account of trying to discover which of her new friends is a killer is an engrossing mystery. At the same time, Hannah’s communication from the FBI allows the reader a glimpse into the life of a writer with a fanatical correspondent.
VERDICT Ned Kelly Award winner Gentill (Crossing the Lines) presents a complex, riveting story within a story. The fictional story of an author writing about another writer with messy, complicated friendships and suspicion is an innovative literary mystery.
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