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The Stranger House

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  1,057 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews

For more than five hundred years weary travelers have been coming to the Stranger House—an out-of-the-way inn in the tiny village of Illthwaite in Cumbria, England. Now two very different visitors have arrived here onthe same dank and dreary autumn afternoon, each one driven by curiosity . . . and perilous purpose.

Australian math wizard Samantha "Sam" Flood is here searc
ebook, 480 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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Jen Michael is Pam Galley's great great (great?) grandfather (and therefore Sam's g-g-g-g grandfather). Michael was the son of Jenny and Miguel/Michael -…moreMichael is Pam Galley's great great (great?) grandfather (and therefore Sam's g-g-g-g grandfather). Michael was the son of Jenny and Miguel/Michael - the son of the Spanish sea captain who was murderd on the beach, so he is distantly related to Mig as well.
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Community Reviews

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Oct 25, 2011 Antonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2011
as ever an interesting book by reginald hill.
his use of language amazes me, there again were a couple of words i had never heard of before. he manages to draw you into an odd world of small places and (let's call them) interesting people.
the structure was somewhat odd with the main climax happening around the middle of the book and then having basically no action but the characters just retelling things before picking up again. i guess that's the old-fashioned 5-part drama structure but to me
Tanja Berg
May 25, 2016 Tanja Berg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mystery, audio
I regularly listen to audio books by Reginald Hill. He is incredibly witty and the plots are beautifull wound together. "The Stranger House" is no exception and I think this is my favorite so far. It's a stand alone and not part of the detective series that the other books I've read (listened to) by him have been.

Miguel Madero and Samantha Flood - a man of good and a mathematician - arrive at the tiny village of Illthwaite and both stay at the pub B&B called "the Stranger House". They are th
Karen S.
I’ll give this book 3 stars, and would recommend it as an ok read. I liked the story. I did not like the main female character. I’m all for strong females, but she was rude, thought she was better/smarter than everyone, and to me, not likable at all. If it weren’t for the unpleasant female lead I may have enjoyed this book a bit more than I did.
Cleo Bannister
May 11, 2014 Cleo Bannister rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, own
Reginald Hill departs from his normal genre of detective fiction in The Stranger House, instead we have one mystery that spans decades to the forced migration of children to Australia and another that goes back centuries to the time of the reformation.

Sam Flood, Australian and former priest, Miguel Madro who is half-Spanish meet at The Stranger House in Illthwaite, Cumbria. With the two strangers thrown together to uncover what happened to their ancestors they soon find that the villagers will c
Ian Mapp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 15, 2007 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, mystery
Reginald Hill has written dozens of books, but this is the first one that I have read. The Stranger House follows two people, Australian mathematician Samantha Flood and Spanish ex-almost-priest Miguel Madero, who travel to a small British town called Illthwaite to search out the history of their respective families. The novel is filled with a lot of coincidences, a small dash of the supernatural, a bunch of eccentric and memorable characters, and so many twists that you're still twisting in the ...more
Pamela Mclaren
This is an intriguing and qite different book about two children who grow up following the trail of their families and ending up in the same small town and struggling with what they find out and what they have to slowly winnow from clues and misdirection by the townspeople.

I'm not sure that I like either main character but the girl — a young woman who is small as a child and behaves through much of the book as a spoiled brat — is particularly annoying. I think in an effort to get the Australian
Will Byrnes
Illthwaite, in Cumbria is a dark place, literally, caught in season-long shadow. Like the roach motel, once a family moves in it does not check out. It has a deep history and not the nicest one. Samantha Flood has come to Illthwaite from her native Australia seeking answers to questions about her family history. Miguel Madero, of both British and Spanish heritage, is seeking answers of a similar kind. They cross paths in a place where ancient signs abound, where secrets are not only in the resid ...more
Dottie Kiminya
A rather strange book pardon the pun. Starts out real well, but it begins to stall in the middle and gets almost boring. With the promise of ghosts and a mathematical genius I must admit I expected a lot more action. However towards the end it gets intriguing again and I couldn't help feel like the author waited too long to get to the climax. I don't know though because weird enough I could literally not put this book down as I kept turning each page waiting to see the big reveal. And at the ver ...more
Dana Stabenow
May 07, 2012 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
His last and he was still at the top of his form. Great characters in Sam, Mig, and Hill's native Cumbria, two -- or is it three -- maybe four, actually, now that I count up -- mysteries and two murders to solve, and a seamless interweaving of two pasts (the Englands of Elizabeth I and II) and the present. Maybe the denouement is a little over the top, but who cares when you find lines like this on every page:

She liked it best when they got to the old sepia photos where the men had beards or hea
Andy Weston
Jul 03, 2012 Andy Weston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a 3.5 stars, in my ongoing campaign for a larger scale!

I am a big admirer of Reginald Hill, whose Dalziel books were something special. Better though was "The Woodcutter", and as I am living in the Lakes at the moment I was very keen to read this. The storyline is good, the setting is tremendous but some of the characters could be stronger. They are not as believable as they should be, and my other criticism is that in the middle 300 pages too little happens, and the novel loses its way
Liz Nutting
Jan 16, 2010 Liz Nutting rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Liz by: Nancy Kirk
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This was a compelling mystery, especially for those who like a little side of supernatural with their whodunits. I thought the ending especially good--a logical resolution of the key issues, without even a hint of deus ex machina.
Lucy Takeda
Nov 23, 2016 Lucy Takeda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read numerous Dalziel and Pascoe novels, and am in the process of rereading. I ran across this title. It is not Dalziel and Pascoe; it is an enthralling, historical, and mystical mystery. Two strangers come to a small village in Cumberland looking for answers to their ancestry, and uncover layers and layers of secrecy.
Cherie Melbourne
Laura Ferguson
Interesting book. Not sure about the portrayal of cumbrians though. I also found myself having to guess who Michael Galley is (?) I can only assume it's Miguel Madero but other than that minor confusion right at the end I loved all the different themes in this book and the build up to the various events.
Oct 14, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, owned, paperback
Reginald Hill has written dozens of books, but I think I love this one the best. Having nothing to do with Hill's usual Daziel and Pascoe series, this almost Gothic novel is set in Cumbria, a dark place literally caught in season-long shadow, during part of the year. With a near-seamless interweaving of two pasts and the present, the author no only presents us with four murders, but throws in a few details about the Child Migrant Scheme as well. I do wish there was more about this horrible part ...more
James Perkins
Based on religious doctrine and moral outrage, this book had a lot of potential, but the two lead characters were not given a proper chance to shine. The first, an Australian "mathematical genius" whose only numerical ability seemed to be harping on about it, used too many overly British and unAustralian expressions in her speech and thoughts, the combination of which highlighted the naivete rather than the cleverness of the author. Why didn't the publishers hire an Australian editor - or at lea ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone - especially mystery lovers
Recommended to Cathy by: no one
My first time to read a Reginald Hill book although I am familiar with him through the television series Pascoe & Dalziel. I'm interested in finding out about the Child Migrant Scheme although so far it really hasn't been discussed. This theme caught my eye because I believe there is a book about a Canadian who came from England on this same program. I'm really enjoying this book - it's a little bit history, romance and mystery -- things that I really like.

I'm pretty far along the book. Fina
Alison C
Mar 04, 2015 Alison C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Stranger House, by Reginald Hill, brings together unlikely allies in an unexpected place: Sam Flood is a brilliant mathematician from Australia who is searching for her family roots in Northern England, while Mig Madero is a half-English, half-Spanish man who has only just recently dropped out of the seminary and is now pursuing a historical mystery concerning an ancestor and the persecution of Catholics in England under Elizabeth I. When these two young people meet up in the village of Illt ...more
Oct 09, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sort of mystery I usually hate: something terrible happened in a small town in England's Lake District some 40 years before the present action, and even though two outsiders are trying to find out what happened, the colorful locals aren't talking. Only after much trouble for our heroes and many sinister threats do we finally learn the family (and other) dysfunctions that started the nastiness. But this book is an excellent exception. The two sleuths are unique, believable, and entert ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A feisty red-haired Australian mathematician (female), and a Spanish former trainee Catholic priest (male), both arrive in the sinister & remote village of Illthwaite, Cumbria; she in connection with family history investigation, and he to carry out research for his thesis on the subject of recusancy. The close knit village community, families whose roots in the village go back centuries, are not eager to divulge secrets. Plenty of twists and turns follow involving the topics of the forced m ...more
Rachael Dixon
Jul 24, 2014 Rachael Dixon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost
I was very close to giving this book a five star, I mean I thoroughly enjoyed it - the pace, the style, the story, the underlying humour - but it sort of fell short at the very end, which is why I gave it a four. I didn't feel as satisfied with the ending as I'd hoped - I liked the way the characters all fit into the village's history, which added to the unfolding mystery, but I think it could have been wrapped up a little better. I felt that the villain/s needed a better comeuppance, and I felt ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Esme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
"The Stranger House" ("Das Fremdenhaus") ohne die Dreifaltigkeit Dalziel / Pascoe / Wield und auch nicht in Yorkshire handelnd, sondern im Dörfchen Illthwaite im Skaddale in Cumbria. Protagonisten sind eine australische Mathematikerin und ein ehemaliger spanischer Priester auf der Suche nach Erkenntnissen über ihre Vorfahren. Schon aus dieser Figurenkonstellation ergeben sich zwischenmenschliche Spannungen und höchst amüsante Wortgefechte. Auch die Dorfbewohner sind sehr exzentrisch, aber zuglei ...more
Magnus S
Aug 30, 2010 Magnus S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beyond doubt the best RH book I read so far! The atmosphere feels so authentic, despite a lead theme that paints a picture of a village with inhabitants that seem still in the 19th century at best. Hill makes it all somehow seem absolutely realistic; the mix of cavemen, vikings and oldfashion style manor owners. The main characters are so sympathetic yet so different, Hill proves a meticulous knowledge and background research in as widely separated fields as mathematics and theology and throws m ...more
Dec 12, 2016 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Two people come to the village of Illthwaite in Cumbria, England, to solve their own family mysteries. One is young Spaniard searching for the disappearance in 1588 of an ancient grandfather. The other is a young Australian searching for her dead grandmother's family. The story is a modern retelling of the Norse story of Loki killing Baldor woven with the persecution of Catholics under Cromwell and the treatment of indigent children in the early 1960s. Masterful telling. The Spaniard has visions ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was with regret that I learned that Reginald Hill had died. He was a man who created mysteries with a little bit extra in terms of intelligence, history and character (Dalziel and Pascoe). "The Stranger House", his last book, does not fail although it is not as smooth as some of his earlier works. But combine accurate Elizabethan history, spirituality, contemporary characters, a love story and a labyrinthian
quest for the truth and you have a winning read about murder, betrayal and love. All
Jul 07, 2012 Julie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I was taken by surprise when I realized this book is partly about the child migration schemes that occurred in England. I recently watched the " based on a true story" movie, "Oranges & Sunshine" starring Emily Watson as the social worker Margaret Humphreys who worked tirelessly to re-unite the children with their parents in the 1980's. These children had been separated from their parents & taken to live in Australia as a government intervention. Both parents & children suffered from ...more
Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 Nick Davies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Probably not one I'd choose for myself, this was given to me by the lady at the taxi office. It was, despite having moments of wit/humour and an interesting premise, overly complicated and felt a little flabby as a consequence. Two strangers' histories collide in a small Cumbrian village - and there is mystery, romance, crime, family saga and some supernatural and historical content there too. The style felt a little simplistic three quarters of the time too. Would've been more enjoyable were it ...more
This is a stand alone mystery/thriller, not a Pascoe & Dalziel mystery. Stand alone mysteries make me happy. This, not so much, falling into the "it was okay" camp. Far from being a detective/police procedural this felt positively gothic to me. Gothic can be good. Ghosts, dark secrets, both past and present, villagers obviously hiding things from our protagonists, who are brought together supernaturally, a rather large serving of coincidence plus identically brutal identical twins, misty moo ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed The Stranger House by Reginald Hill. Set in Cumbria, the story told about two "strangers" search for their ancestors in the imaginary village of Illthwaite. Hill combined mathematics, history, and Norse myth with an exciting plot ending in justice being delivered by the gods. I did find the story to be complex, and had to check back frequently for references to the lesser characters. It would be great if authors of mystery novels put a character list at the beginning of the book ...more
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Reginald Charles Hill is a contemporary English crime writer, and the winner in 1995 of the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement.

After National Service (1955-57) and studying English at St Catherine's College, Oxford University (1957-60) he worked as a teacher for many years, rising to Senior Lecturer at Doncaster College of Education. In 1980 he retired from
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“Or an amicable pair,” said Sam. “Sorry?” “In math, that’s what we call two numbers each of which is equal to the sum of the divisors of the other. The smallest ones, 220 and 284, were regarded by the Pythagoreans as symbols of true friendship.” 0 likes
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