Author: Sulari Gentill
Publication: Poisoned Pen Press/Sourcebooks, paperback, 2022
Setting: BostonDescription: Writer Hannah Tigone is sitting at a table in the Boston Public Library’s ornate Reading Room when a woman screams. Soon the police find a dead body. Hannah had been eyeing the three people adjacent to her as a possible source of inspiration and the mysterious scream startles them into a conversation, then a spontaneous and enthusiastic friendship. But one of the four is a murderer. This is a story within a story: Hannah is Australian, writing suspense set in Boston from far away during the pandemic, corresponding with Leo, a fan who is based there and provides fact-checking on the chapters she sends him as well as commentary on his own attempts to become a published author. It is a variation of the locked room mystery where it seems improbable that a crime could have been committed.
My Impression: I had heard about this book before seeing it at Barnes & Noble and decided it would be a good change for my book group due to its Boston setting and strong reviews. All but one of us really enjoyed it because, overall, this book is very well done and is quite unusual. My friends particularly appreciated the glimpse of the writing process as Hannah contemplates and develops her characters, the many red herrings the author scatters to confuse her readers, mentions of the pandemic (must it be included? was it more inescapable in Boston than in Australia? After all, our book group was meeting inside for the first time since February 2020 and we would have sat in the restaurant’s courtyard if rain weren’t expected) and the seemingly unexpected comments on race by Hannah’s correspondent Leo. We wondered why we had assumed all the characters were white and discussed whether they were or not and if, as readers, we wanted the author to make it clear. We did not care but agreed we should not assume.
|The Boston Public Library Reading Room|
Source: Personal copy. This is my seventeenth book for Carol's 2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge.