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The Woman in the Library

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In every person's story, there is something to hide...

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

292 pages, ebook

First published June 7, 2022

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About the author

Sulari Gentill

24 books1,101 followers
Once upon a time, Sulari Gentill was a corporate lawyer serving as a director on public boards, with only a vague disquiet that there was something else she was meant to do. That feeling did not go away until she began to write. And so Sulari became the author of the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries: thus far, ten historical crime novels chronicling the life and adventures of her 1930s Australian gentleman artist, the Hero Trilogy, based on the myths and epics of the ancient world, and the Ned Kelly Award winning Crossing the Lines (published in the US as After She Wrote Hime). In 2014 she collaborated with National Gallery of Victoria to write a short story which was produced in audio to feature in the Fashion Detective Exhibition, and thereafter published by the NGV. IN 2019 Sulari was part of a 4-member delegation of Australian crime writers sponsored by the Australia Council to tour the US as ambassadors of Australian Crime Writing.

Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, Sulari’s latest novel will be released on 7 June 2022.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,173 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
March 15, 2023
I loved this intelligent, high tension, addictive, unputdownable book so much!

A story is hidden inside another story about a writer’s building another thriller story: are you confused with the story line reminding us of smart thriller book version of Inception screenplay! At least nobody’s dreaming in this book! It’s only 3 dimensional story so you have to wear your 3D glasses during your read not to get lost!

This book is written in unique, unconventional, twisty, intelligent style.

There’s a main murder story connecting four alibis who are coincidentally ( or not so coincidentally) meet at BPL for their own writing researches. And at each chapter’s end contains emails about a true fan’s reviews about the continuing story which is still written!

Aren’t you still drawn into? It is absolutely riveting and picked my interest with its impactful ending of the first chapter: main character of the story: Winifred Kincaid a.k.a. ,27, an aspiring Aussie author who came to the states by benefiting from Marriott Scholarship chooses the same day to work at the Boston Public Library with random three young people who share the same table with her.

She observes three of them without giving away too much clue : 23 years old tattooed girl with nose ring : she called her “Freud Girl” and her real name is Marigold Anastas, a vivid, eccentric, energetic girl who studies psychology with stalking tendencies ( unusual trait for the choice of her major).

A Harvard Law student, mommy’s boy with flirting charm, a powerful lawyer’s dear son, she called “ Heroic Chin” and his real name is Whit Metters

And third one she obviously likes a little more is charismatic author, 30, with mysterious past, she called “ Handsome Man” ( she could be more creative but she’s charmed by this man at first sight, who can blame her!) his real name is Cain McLeod ( or not! )

They both heard a woman’s scream at the library and their common panic connected the foursome to share coffees and stories at the Map Room. First chapter implies one of them is a murderer. But which one?

I guessed I had to turn the pages faster to find out more about these four people and how their paths get crossed as more violence and murders are thrown into the equation.

We also have a quick look to the one sided correspondences between the author who created foursome’s whodunnit murder story and a little deranged fan who writes his opinions and suggests direction to the author.

Hannah Tigone is the main author of the story we don’t know much about her: ( only we know she’s successful Australian thriller author and black) and we don’t see her own correspondences, we learn about her via emails of Leo who seems like another aspiring writer and her biggest fan , who reads her manuscript, giving her some ideas about language, slangs, idioms etc. But we also realize his criticizing tone starts changing a little bit: his lecturing tone to make irreversible changes with the story and his stubbornness to reject understanding true nature of characters and their motives Hannah created turner into something more maniacal and uncontrollable!

Leo’s emails are added at the each chapter of main story which ends with twisty cliffhangers help to build more tension and awaken readers’ curiosity.

As you understood: you just read two plots at the same time and there’s a smart move from the author who also added Leo as a colleague of Freddie at the library murder story which makes us confused more about the motives of the character.

The surprising ending was also remarkable. I was thinking to give four stars because the whodunnit subplot’s culprit was a little obvious even though the author tries harder to deceive us by pointing out the other characters as suspects. But the unique two intercepted storylines ( both of them are interesting) and smart ending earned my additional half star.

I’m rounding up my 4.5 to 5 murder mystery, well plotted, greatly executed, exciting stars!

Looking forward to read more works of the author sooner!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
September 3, 2023
Was this a murder mystery? A character study? A meta exploration on being a writer? Honestly, I'm not sure. All I know is, I couldn't get into it no matter how hard I tried.

On the surface, this appears to be everything I'd enjoy. Four strangers are sharing the same table at the library when a scream rends the air. A woman has been murdered. The scream bonds the four strangers and they become fast friends. But as sinister events continue to dog them and they're unable to shake the shadow of the murder, it's clear one of them is hiding secrets. But which one is it?

Ah, a murder mystery with only a limited number of suspects. I can totally get on board with that. But it quickly becomes obvious that four people, one of whom is the first-person narrator, is too few suspects to sustain a full-length novel. There are only so many possibilities and—unless it was an alien or supernatural interloper who did it, but alas, no— it's hard to feel even a blip of surprise when it's all revealed in the end.

Because the mystery itself moves along quite slowly, we spend a lot of time and focus on the characters. But they're bland at best and unlikable at worst, lacking that all-important appeal that makes character studies come alive. And their actions don't really make sense, often bordering on inappropriate and mostly annoying the heck out of me.

This has the format of a story within a story, which I usually love. But it didn't work here. The outer story, with Hannah authoring the murder mystery, doesn't mesh with the actual inner story itself, and her correspondences with Leo are by far the weakest parts of the whole thing. Every time we get to Leo's letters, which is at the end of every single chapter, I dreaded reading it. Not only was it obnoxious and irrelevant, but it took away from the little forward momentum of an already slow story.

And on top of all that, I didn't really understand the very end. I thought everything had wrapped up, but the last page made it seem like there should've been more. Except I'd definitely reached the end, and what an unsatisfying one it was.

I'm just so confused by my reading experience. So many other readers loved this and found it thrilling and twisty. But I thought it was as dull as a murder mystery can be, with hardly any surprises or twists or even clues. Though it was only 250 pages, I crawled through it for weeks and ended up in the dreaded slump.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
May 4, 2022
less than impressed with this one. which is such a shame because a murder in a library sounds exactly like my kind of thing.

and that plot-line is actually okay. not amazing, but decent enough to keep me reading. what really ruined the book is the additional plot of someone corresponding with the author of the story (this is a story within a story within a story). it adds absolutely nothing to the book. if anything, it disrupts the flow of the mystery in the main plot, taking the reader out of moments that could have been tense if not for the disruption. i started skipping these interludes by the 50% mark because i realised they have absolutely no impact or connection to the storyline that i was actually somewhat interested in.

so just a very disappointing narrative choice, which unfortunately made me not interested in the book as a whole. the only reason i finished it was because i needed to know “whodunnit.”

thanks for the ARC, poisoned pen press.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,196 reviews3,036 followers
June 18, 2022
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
Narrated by Katherine Littrell

I was thoroughly entertained by this story or stories...just how many stories do we have here? The story starts with Aussie Winifred AKA Freddie, living in Boston on a scholarship, sitting at a library table with three strangers. And then there is a scream! The ensuing chaos leads to Freddy and her tablemates becoming friends. Friendship out of chaos and tragedy, funny how the world works.

Freddy is writing a book and she decides to incorporate these three people into her book, a sort of writing what she sees. But there is another book being written and I don't mean the book being written by the guy who was sitting across from her, the guy she labels Handsome Man. I'm still thinking about this story and the layers upon layers and how one author takes the advice (or doesn't) of a beta reader. How events or suggestions can drive an author and a story but not always the way we expect it to be driven.

The narration was very good although I did stumble over a few Aussie accented words and would laugh when I figured out what I was really hearing because I was so off base. But an Aussie being in the US is part of the fun of this story. There is so much to think about here.

Pub: June 7th 2022

Thank you to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,189 reviews2,251 followers
June 7, 2022
Dear Hannah…

This “story within a story” opens up with a letter from Leo Johnson, a beta reader, to Australian author, Hannah Tigone, a mystery writer, who cannot travel to Boston to research her latest novel, because of Covid restrictions. Although many things can be “googled” there is nothing better than a local who can help with getting the “lingo” right, as well as provide social commentary on current events.

We then move on to Chapter One, (of Hannah’s book) where we will meet Australian author, Winifred “Freddie” Kincaid, living in Boston as the recipient of the Marriott Scholarship, which comes with accommodations in a Victorian brownstone called Carrington Square.

Freddie has decided to spend the day writing at the Boston Public Library (BPL) but she finds herself distracted by the artistic detail of the ceiling and by the three other people who are sharing her table-People she has made notes on, so she could base characters on them later on-giving them the monikers Handsome Man, Heroic Chin, and Freud Girl. (Cain, Whit and Marigold)

But then the quiet of the library is shattered by a terrified SCREAM….one that will bond these four strangers and turn them into fast friends, when they discover that the scream that they heard, was of a woman being murdered, and that they are now each other’s alibis.

But not everything is as clear cut as it might appear.

Each chapter of Hannah’s book, is followed by the latest correspondence from Leo, who becomes more and more invested in her novel, as Freddie’s story progresses. There are TWO mysteries-one for each author, and BOTH were equally as engaging!

This has gotten mixed reviews but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! ❤️

I couldn’t wait to pick it up every chance that I could, and it will be a favorite of mine this year!

It was SMART, CLEVER, and it didn’t have to rely on twists coming out of left field to deliver a satisfying ending! Gentill was inspired by a correspondence of her own…

I gave the author’s last novel, “After She Wrote Him” 4 ⭐️

Review for After She Wrote Him: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I enjoyed this one even more!
5 shiny ⭐️ Stars from me!

A buddy read with DeAnn-be sure to read her amazing review to read her thoughts!


Thank You to Poisoned Pen Press for the gifted copy of this ARC, provided through NetGalley! It was my pleasure to offer a candid review!
Profile Image for Holly  B .
849 reviews2,013 followers
June 14, 2022
Well played, new author to me, well played!!

I loved the idea of this clever mystery within a mystery. The way the fictional reality in the story played alongside the fictional in a unique format. The different plots/ two stories playing out chapter by chapter.

A murder at the library, people bonded by a scream, another murder or two, a manuscript, lots of book talk, someone playing Nancy Drew, interesting turns that had me double guessing myself and swaying my opinion of the murderers identity. Which one is a murderer?!!

I HAD to know WHO did it! I kept wanting to read more to find out, always wanting to get back to the book. It was fun to guess along with Leo (one of the characters, perhaps a nemesis) as he tossed around theories. He annoyed me with his pushy emails that became more demanding as he tried to guide the direction of Freddie's novel. I have some serious questions about Leo!! Anybody else?

Bought the kindle ecopy/ Released on June 7, 2022
Profile Image for emma.
1,866 reviews54.4k followers
December 22, 2022
hello mtv and welcome to insanity.

this is THE WEIRDEST book of all time.

i requested an ARC of this on netgalley with great haste and love in my heart, because it's set partially in the boston public library, otherwise known as the single greatest place in the world.

i am a dramatic person with a flair for believing everything to be a sign from the universe, so i thought my liking this was ordained.

au contraire.

but let's back up.

this is a book within a book, kinda: an author is writing a murder mystery. half the book is the murder mystery (which follows four lame, boring friends, 2 in college and 2 grown ass people who should have something better to do, who witnessed - except not really - a murder in the BPL) and the other half is emails the author is receiving from her writing buddy, a full on loser.

the full on loser in question is based in boston, whereas our dear author is in australia (?), so a big part of this is that every chapter ends with an email intended as an unsolicited consultation on All Things American.

this would be kind of boring and weird even at the best of times, but it is truly made one of a kind in that the loser friend has a roughly 50% accuracy rate on his advice and corrections. "americans say cell phone, not phone!" he says in one email. (i always say phone). have your character say "i'm on the subway!" he adds in the next sentence, when it's (FAMOUSLY) called the T in boston.

i was waiting for this to be made a part of the story - turns out he's a freak who was never in america at all, or something! - but no. it was just error after error, as it turns out.

anyway. this has the pacing of a cozy mystery with the darkness and goriness of a thriller, derogatory. it's a combination that absolutely won't work for me, and the amount of ham-handed social commentary from immigration to US politics to the pandemic that's thrown in doesn't help.

worst of all, these characters are unbearable - oddly flat while omnipresent. there's no excuse for each of the friends having 1-2 personality traits when there are fewer sentences they don't show up in than do. they read cartoonishly, and their insta-love fixation on each other is bizarre to witness.

don't even get me started on the actual insta-love.

add in a lame reveal and a silly villain and we have a true nightmare on our hands!

bottom line: dropping this down to 1.5 :(


can't win em all.

review to come

currently-reading updates

my favorite thing (a book) set in my favorite place (the boston public library)...this is everything to me.

(thanks to netgalley etc. for the e-arc)


reading books by asian authors for aapi month!

book 1: kim jiyoung, born 1982
book 2: siren queen
book 3: the heart principle
book 4: n.p.
book 5: the hole
book 6: set on you
book 7: disorientation
book 8: parade
book 9: if i had your face
book 10: joan is okay
book 11: strange weather in tokyo
book 12: sarong party girls
book 13: the wind-up bird chronicle
book 14: portrait of a thief
book 15: sophie go's lonely hearts club
book 16: chemistry
book 17: heaven
book 18: the atlas six
book 19: the remains of the day
book 20: is everyone hanging out without me? and other concerns
book 21: why not me?
book 22: when the tiger came down the mountain
book 23: the lies we tell
book 24: to paradise
book 25: pachinko
book 26: you are eating an orange. you are naked.
book 27: cursed bunny
book 28: almond
book 29: a tiny upward shove
book 30: ms ice sandwich
book 31: the woman in the library
Profile Image for Michael David (on hiatus).
656 reviews1,608 followers
April 28, 2022
A murder mystery that starts off in a crowded library full of book lovers? SIGN ME UP!

Harriet is an Australian implant writer who hopes to find inspiration for a novel while staring at the ceiling at the Boston Public Library. Cain, Whit, and Marigold happen to be sitting at the same table when they hear the horrendous noise of a woman’s screams. Shocked, they end up striking up a quick and effortless friendship…only to find out soon after that the screaming woman was murdered. Who murdered her? Could it possibly be someone at the table?

This is a fun whodunnit that is told from Harriet’s POV. Alternating chapters tell a story within a story through Leo, a fan of an author named Hannah, who is writing the story we’re reading. She sends him chapters of her book and he responds to each one, helping with advice. Will his insight be impactful?

This mystery is fun, with a great group of characters to get to know. I suspected quite a few folks at one time or another…and yet, I wasn’t completely blown away when all was revealed. That didn’t deter my engagement.

While I don’t want to say too much more (although other reviews do…beware), I’ll add that this novel serves food for thought on racial equality and pandemics in writing. It does NOT get too heavy though.

Overall, I would recommend this to readers looking for an entertaining and sometimes humorous mystery that balances the right amount of depth without ever taking itself too seriously.

3.5 stars rounded up.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Expected Publication Date: 6/7/22.

Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Virginie Roy.
Author 2 books624 followers
June 19, 2022
I was eager to read this one since the premise was so interesting: murder, library, writers... It really seemed like my type of book!

Unfortunately, I wasn't engaged in the story at all and I finished it only because I had received an ARC.😕 I wasn't really curious about the identity of the murderer nor in the different relationships between the characters.

One thing I did enjoy was the concept of a story within a story with the letters from a fan to the author. On the other hand, I feel like this idea could have been more elaborate.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the ARC.
Profile Image for LTJ.
125 reviews65 followers
July 3, 2023
“The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill is the first novel I’ve ever read by this author as I was excited to see what kind of murder mystery I was jumping into. Now, before I get into my review, I want to let you all know about the trigger warnings I found while reading. In this novel, there are moments of parental abuse, both physical and sexual. If either of these triggers you, please don’t read this novel.

Moving along, the first chapter of this novel was awesome! I was immediately hooked and could not wait to see how all this would unravel. I have to say, Gentill’s style of writing is very good as that first chapter set the tone for what I felt was likely to be a solid murder mystery. Wow, it delivered on that aspect and then some!

Her unique style of writing “The Woman in the Library” was fantastic as at first, it was a bit confusing with “letters” at the end of each chapter but as I kept reading, it was all finally starting to make sense. Don’t worry, I will not spoil anything for you but I did not see any of that coming at all as I was enjoying each chapter.

I’ve never read anything like this novel before in regards to how it was formatted and let me tell you, it was quite refreshing. Besides that, I loved that the setting does indeed take place in a library with writers, authors, and all the conversations you’d expect them to have as they do what they do best. As a professional sports writer and book reviewer myself, this novel truly hit home for me as it felt pretty real and even creepy to me in some parts.

There are several events and situations here that flirt a bit with horror, my favorite reading genre. The main protagonist, Freddie, was my favorite character by far. The way she processed everything through the lens of an author, plotting connections and possibilities as if it were a novel she’s writing was great. I also loved the reference to “Misery” by Stephen King which is one of my all-time favorite horror novels as well as all the awesome coffee references since I’m a coffee maniac as well.

The plot twists and turns were also great on top of short, quick chapters. This novel is a jam-packed murder mystery that has so much going on, it could literally be three stories told in one. Yeah, I know that sounds a bit confusing but the reading experience is next-level, to say the least. It’s one of those novels you have to read it to believe it and I’m pretty confident you’ll also feel the same way that it’s an eccentric yet exciting read from beginning to end. The ending was remarkable as it all came together nicely.

I give “The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill a 4/5 as there are several layers of mystery here that adds good depth to the main story that left me guessing to the very end. I didn’t see that coming at all and considering this novel was a genuine pageturner with so many things going on, I wasn’t confused or anything. The only critique I have that I didn’t like was it did drag on a bit here and there, mostly due to characters repeating situations and events that already happened in dialogue. I’m not a fan at all of recapping things that way and if it wasn’t for that, I’d easily give this a 5/5. Either way, I highly recommend reading this if you love a good murder mystery done in one of the most original ways I’ve ever read in my life. A scream unites all.
May 10, 2022

“And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified.”

Australian author Winifred ‘Freddie’ Kincaid is in Boston on a writers’ scholarship and is spending time in the reading room of Boston Public Library, seeking inspiration for her next book when a piercing scream shatters the silence and becomes a conversation starter for Freddie and the three other people sharing the table – psychology student Marigold Anastas, law student Whit Metters and published author Cain McLeod (initially dubbed Freud Girl, Heroic Chin and Handsome Man respectively by Freddie, based on her observations). Initially, the source of the scream is not revealed until the next day when it is made public that the body of a young woman, who worked for a local tabloid, had been found. As the story progresses, the four of them become friends and find themselves embroiled in the mystery surrounding the death of the young woman and it is revealed that one of them is connected to the murder.

Guess what? This is the plot of a work of fiction by Australian author Hannah Tigone. Unlike her protagonist Freddie, she is in Australia, working on her new book, and is sharing her chapters with Leo Johnson, a struggling writer and fan of Hannah’s previous work. Leo is based in Boston and shares his opinions and suggestions with Hannah. (Hannah also names another character in the book, Freddie’s friend, neighbor and fellow scholar, Leo). Travel restrictions on account of the COVID pandemic render Hannah unable to travel and Leo attempts to help her in her research, the tone of his letters becoming more forceful and disturbing as the plot progresses.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Woman the Library by Sulari Gentill. I loved the story within a story structure of the narrative. The narrative is in the form of draft chapters written by Hannah Tigone interspersed with her correspondence with Leo. This is a smart, well-written whodunit with an interesting cast of characters and a well-developed plot. The mystery element was intriguing and I found myself pleasantly surprised with the way both the stories progressed. Though the pace does waver in parts, at no point did I find myself losing interest. This is the kind of book that needs to be read in one sitting. This was my first Sulari Gentill novel and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the digital review copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. This novel is due to be published on June 7, 2022.
Profile Image for Fran.
661 reviews630 followers
April 15, 2022
"I am a bricklayer without drawings, laying words in sentences, sentences into paragraphs, allowing my walls to twist and turn on whim...no framework...just bricks interlocked...no idea what I'm building or if it will stand...no symmetry, no plan, just the chaotic unplotted bustle of human life...[Am I] just a woman in the library with a blank page before her?"

In the Reading Room of the Boston Public Library sit four strangers at a communal table. Winifred "Freddie" Kincaid, a writer-in-residence living at Carrington Square, is the recipient of a one year Marriot Writing Scholarship. Cain McLeod, a published writer, has been called "one of America's most promising young novelists" by the Washington Post. Marigold Anastas is a brilliant psychology major at Harvard. To avoid being forced to join the family firm, Whit Metters is purposely failing Harvard Law School. Freddie tries "to pin a version of these three to her blank page...every character's past is a mystery to unearth." And then there is a scream!

"I'd heard someone die...the words come quickly...with clarity...the story of strangers bonded by a scream..." "I'd felt unworthy, uncertain...but today I return from the library exhilarated...four strangers who seem to recognize each other, like we'd been friends before in a life forgotten."

"The Woman in the Library" by Sulari Gentill is the fictional story of Hannah, a mystery writer, penning a murder mystery crafted by fictional mystery writer Winifred Kincaid. Freddie is trying to solve the case of who killed Caroline Palfrey, leaving her body hidden under the buffet table in the library gallery. "So recently strangers, Freddie is surprised by how comfortable she is with these people...a demonstration of trust in each other."" Foursome" Freddie, Marigold, Cain and Whit, go to the Map Room Tea Lounge for friendship and Freddie states, 'my first coffee with a killer.'" Who killed Caroline Palfrey?

Hannah Tigone is writing a mystery novel from her home base in Australia. The pandemic thwarted her plans for a research trip to Boston. An exuberant fan of Hannah's novels, Leo Johnson, volunteers to be her "scout, her eyes and ears" in the U.S. Leo will do legwork to authenticate locations in Boston. Through e-mail correspondence, he forwards crime scene photos of murders in and around the Boston Public Library. As each chapter of Hannah's book unfolds, Leo proofreads to make sure dialogue conforms to typical Boston conversation. But...Leo's helpful suggestions have morphed into something darker. Many comments are now forceful, with attempts to change the trajectory of Hannah's novel.

"The Woman in the Library" is a twisty, unpredictable read. It is difficult to peal back the layers of the persona of the four main protagonists. Add the e-mail between author and her obsessed volunteer researcher/reader, and the plot thickens. I found the character development to be excellent, however, the story-within-a -story and its complexities did not work for me.

Thank you Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Kerrin .
304 reviews227 followers
June 9, 2022
The Woman In The Library by Sulari Gentill is a clever murder mystery that involves a story within a story. It begins with a Bostonian named Leo writing to an Australian author, Hannah Tigone. Leo is a fan of Hannah and he describes trying to write at the Boston Public Library. Leo has been unsuccessful in getting his book published. He is thrilled when Hannah decides to set her next mystery novel inside the Boston Public Library and lets him read the story chapter by chapter. Leo then sends suggestions and comments to her, which become increasingly bizarre.

Hannah’s new novel is about an Australian writer, Winifred “Freddie”, who is seated at a table at the Boston Public Library with three strangers when they all hear a scream. Later the body of a female reporter is found dead in the library. This incident bonds the two men and two women and a fast friendship forms. We quickly learn that one of the three is a killer, but we don’t know which one.

The regular email correspondence between Leo and Hannah reminds the reader that Freddie’s story is fiction, but that doesn’t make it less interesting. I was drawn into the intense friendship that was formed out of a shared experience as well as the author’s insight into the life of a convicted murderer. There is also some romance. My guess as to whodunit turned out wrong.

4.5-stars rounded up. This book was published on June 7, 2022. Thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for my advanced reader copy.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,048 reviews2,103 followers
May 30, 2022
EXCERPT: 'So what are we going to do about Caroline Palfrey?'

'What do you mean do?

'We can't just pretend it didn't happen and carry on. Someone was killed just feet from where we were sitting. It has to change things.'

Whit carefully pulls an onion ring from a stack smothered with honey barbeque sauce and cheese. 'If anything is going to make us reveal our true identities as avenging superheroes, surely it's that.'

'There were a lot of people in Bates Hall that day, Marigold,' Cain says more gently.

'It just seems indecent not to do anything. We heard her die.' There is an earnestness in Marigold's voice.

'I'm not sure what we can possibly do,' Cain admits.

'What if they never find out who killed Caroline?' Marigold's voice trembles. 'We heard her scream. A scream is supposed to bring help, and we heard her scream.'

ABOUT 'THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY': The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

MY THOUGHTS: I love having my head messed with, and Sulari Gentill is a master of the art.

Hannah Tigone is an Australian author living in Sydney, writing about another Australian author Freddie (Winifred), recipient of a fellowship which has her living in Boston for a year. She is in the Boston Public Library trying to gather inspiration and finds herself sharing a table with three other people, whom she dubs Freud Girl, Heroic Chin and Handsome Man. And so the story begins . . .

It is hard at times to remember that we're reading a novel about a novel being written. The writing is very vivid, the lines deliberately blurred. This is further complicated by the introduction of a character called Leo Johnson, a beta-reader in reality, who lives in Boston; her neighbour and co-recipient of the fellowship in her novel. Hannah sends beta-reader Leo chapters of her novel as she completes them and he emails his critique back to her.

Nothing about any of these people is as it seems, except for Hannah/Freddie, the narrator of the story.

I was completely absorbed and enthralled by The Woman in the Library, just as I was by After She Wrote Him. It's an unusual, clever, and incredibly satisfying read. A book that I will read again.

I love Gentill's (Freddie's) description of the writing process, likening it to laying bricks without a plan, allowing the walls to twist and turn on a whim. Or riding a bus where people get on and off randomly and there's always the possibility of the route being changed at the last minute for weather, or accident, parade or marathon. And of staring at the ceiling in the BPL, 'These have gazed down on writers before. Do they see one now? Or just a woman in the library with a blank page before her? Maybe I should just stop looking at the ceiling and write something.'


#TheWomanintheLibrary #NetGalley

I: @sularigentill @poisonedpenpress

T: @SulariGentill @PPPress

#contemporaryfiction #fivestarread #murdermystery #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Once upon a time, Sulari Gentill was a corporate lawyer serving as a director on public boards, with only a vague disquiet that there was something else she was meant to do. That feeling did not go away until she began to write.
Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Jasmine.
260 reviews285 followers
June 8, 2022
The Woman in the Library is a story within a story within another story. It should have been one I loved, but I was never fully invested in it.

Four strangers are sitting in the Boston Public Library when they hear a shrill scream. The scream ends up bringing these four twenty to thirty-somethings together. When they learn that a body was found shortly after the shriek of terror, they all inadvertently became entangled in the case. This encounter inspires Freddie, the protagonist, for the novel she is currently writing.

That is the basis for Hannah Tigone’s story. While writing her story, she exchanges emails with a super fan named Leo, who eagerly gives her advice about her characters and plot lines. The reader never sees what Hannah writes to Leo, only what Leo writes back. Over time, Hannah’s story and Leo’s emails take on a darker tone.

Usually, I enjoy a story within a story, but in this case, I found it distracting. To me, Leo’s emails didn’t add much to the narrative. It’s hard to say anything without getting into spoiler territory.

Gentill has some opinions on writing about the current pandemic in contemporary stories. However, I think her views were more clearly expressed in the author’s note than it was in the context of the story. In the narrative, these views pulled my attention away from the central plot.

I did like the progression of character development. At first, the characters seemed like shells named Heroic Chin and Freud Girl, etc., but their personalities became more defined as the novel continued.

This novel is a quick read as the chapters are fairly short.

There are many other rave reviews, so don’t let my review sway you away from giving it a try.

2.5 stars.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for SK.
310 reviews2,727 followers
May 12, 2022
Dnf @35%

I simply did not care for the characters, the plot is just written in a bland manner, the characters are flat. Story within a story? KMN. Y'all made it seem like such an interesting read, but am sorry it just did not work for me. I found myself skimming through it and I just had to stop.

Also, the author being an aboriginal person, you would think she would pay attention to stereotypes but no that wasn't the case. It was disgusting to read and had no place in the book. I take it as a reflection of her own thoughts and her or anyone making excuses for the "characters' personality" is not a good enough excuse❌ Honestly, it does make me question how y'all chose to ignore that. I will not be reading any books by this author in the future.

eARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Melissa (Semi-hiatus Very Behind).
4,646 reviews2,108 followers
June 15, 2022
3.5 rounded up

I started this book as an audiobook. The format is set up as alternating letters/e-mails from aspiring author Leo (in the US) to Hannah, an accomplished Australian author who is writing a book about the murder of a woman in a library and the group of people who are doing some armchair investigating of the crime. Hannah's chapters are all her writing, featuring the main character Winifred "Freddie". We don't get any of her voice in the book other than her writing. Confused yet? I promise, it's not that complicated once you get going.

The thing that didn't work for the audiobook for me was that there was only one narrator, a female. It would have worked SO much better had there been a male narrating Leo's portions and a female narrating Hannah's book. I honestly got lost with who was talking and it took me out of the story. When I switched to the print version, it was much easier to keep track of what was happening.

At almost 50% into the book, things get very interesting. I admit that it might be a chore for some readers to stick with it to that point, but if you do the payoff is worth it. Things get much more sinister and intriguing and I honestly wish we had a bit more from that side of things (you'll know what I mean when you get there).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book within a book, but it does take a bit of work on the reader's part to puzzle out what is going on and how everything fits together. This is a unique read and I'm glad I took the opportunity to experience it.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.
June 11, 2022
This was a DNF for me at 25%. I found it a chore to read with unlikable and unrelatable characters. I couldn't buy the instant friendship between these characters after meeting just once and hearing a scream. WHAT, no way this would happen.

The parts with Leo were downright boring and increasingly confusing, this didn't work for me at all.

I have read other books within a book that worked well, this I thought was a mess and the letters from Leo just broke up any interest or tension I felt for the story that Hannah was writing.

Why would an Aussie writer base her book in Boston when she'd never been there?? I don't think any author would do this. How can you write about a place you know nothing about?

This was a buddy read with Jan and we both DNF it!!
Profile Image for Liz.
2,140 reviews2,756 followers
June 17, 2022
I wasn’t sure what to make of this story originally. It’s a story within a story. In the primary story, Hannah, the author is based in Australia during Covid and relying on a friend in Boston to fact-check her understanding of the city.
In her story, four strangers are sharing a table at the Boston Public Library when they hear the terrified scream of a woman elsewhere in the building. While waiting for an all clear from the guards, they strike up a conversation and a friendship results. Turns out, a woman, a Boston Brahmin and reporter, has been murdered. As Freddie, the main character in Hannah’s story, says, it’s the opposite of a locked room mystery. Freddie uses the incident as the basis for a story she’s writing. So, it’s a book about a writer, whose main character is a writer, both using the same characters in their stories. And then the fact-checker asks Hannah to write him into the story as a character. Got it? (Trust me, I struggled to describe it.)
I will admit it took me a while to get into the swaps back and forth, between the correspondence and the book draft and the secondary book draft. At times in the beginning, it felt overly convoluted, which served to take me out of the story. I was totally invested in the story of Freddie, Marigold, Cain and Whit. So, any time the focus veered away from them, I became irritated. But then, the Hannah/Leo story became more interesting and I was equally interested in both. Gentill did a great job tying up both storylines and I was totally off course in who I thought was responsible.
I listened to this, which was probably why I struggled in the beginning. And it didn’t help that Katherine Latrell, the narrator, didn’t do southern accents very well or at least couldn’t switch between an Aussie and an American accent easily.
Profile Image for L.A..
451 reviews148 followers
December 10, 2021
What an outstanding job and literary work in the crime-fiction genre! This whodunit will ring in your ears like an Alfred Hitchcock or deeper with a subplot that is chilling. When the characters come together as strangers in the Ornate Reading Room in the Boston Public Library, they will leave as friends and much deeper after a murder occurs in this "locked room in reverse" thriller.

Freddie, Whit, Cain and Marigold are sitting at a table in the library when they hear a blood curdling scream in one of the other rooms. Little did they know that one of them would be the killer. Strangely, when security locks them in place to investigate, the police cannot find a body. They are able to leave, so they meet for coffee to discuss what has happened and discover they are established writers and one is a stalker. Later, they will learn the body was concealed under a buffet table with a tablecloth explaining why it wasn't found right away.

The narrator is Freddie who decides to write a book using them as the characters. There is a Hannibal Lector feel in the subplot from a writer Leo offering advice on her writing through emails. His input becomes dark and unnatural, but keeping you involved and changing your mind several times with who the killer is. The characters are well played and believable, but the biggest capture of my attention is the persona of each friend and how they each perceive the other. Plus, an unbelievable stunt to the writing when you don't know or forget which characters are made up! This is genius, Sulari Gentill! You will see when you read this gem!
Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for this title in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Barbara**catching up!.
1,393 reviews805 followers
July 1, 2022
I very much enjoyed Sulari Gentill’s new novel, “The Woman in the Library”. Gentill cleverly writes a mystery within a mystery. Sound confusing? It’s not, but it’s enough to keep the reader focused.

Australian mystery writer Winifred (aka Freddie) Kincaid is at the BPL (Boston Public Library) on a quest for inspiration for a new novel, which she is setting in the United States. While there, a woman screams garnering the attention of everyone in the library. Freddie is at a table with three other people when the scream occurs. The security guards keep everyone still until they clear the room. The four bond and speculate on the scream. Once they learn of the discovery of a dead female, their bond solidifies. Freddie is influenced by the scream and determines to write a novel about four strangers united by a scream.

We soon learn that Hannah Tigone is the Australian author behind the character Freddie Kincaid. Hannah is writing the mystery starring Freddie. Hannah has a fan, Leo Johnson, a fellow writer in residence who offers to be a beta reader for her novel. Leo is to check for anachronisms given Hannah is Australian and Leo is from the USA. Thus, Hannah is writing the story of Freddie Kincaid who is writing the story of a murder in the BPL, and Hannah sends her work to Leo who offers his opinions for edit. Leo’s email encouragement and corrections are fun.

Leo’s emails to Hannah begin as deferential and a bit witty. As the mystery of the scream unfolds, Leo’s input is added in unexpected ways. Leo’s emails become more bizarre as the story progresses, especially after Leo’s book is rejected by Hannah’s publisher.

So, we have the mystery of the screaming woman who may or may not be the dead woman. As time passes, each of the four become more suspect of each other. While Freddie attempts to discover who murdered the woman and why, Leo’s emails become more extreme.

Freddie is very resourceful, almost like a plucky Nancy Drew. The plot is well-paced, and the characters are well-developed. You’ll be rooting for Freddie in this twisty tale.

I chose to listen to the audio, narrated by Katherine Littrell. She did a fine job.

Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,322 reviews2,142 followers
June 6, 2022
I love a smart, well written mystery, especially one with a twist in the tale, so this was definitely my kind of book. I have to admit it took a lot of concentration to stay on top of events but the best books usually require participation on the part of the reader.

The Woman in the Library introduces us to Hannah Tigone, a Sydney based author of mysteries. She is writing a book set in Boston and has a beta reader called Leo who lives there and provides suggestions when the text needs adjusting for local atmosphere. Her characters, Freddie, Whit, Marigold and Cain, meet in the library when a young woman is murdered.

The book progresses with excerpts of Hannah's writing interspersed with Leo's replies. Then at his request Hannah writes him into her story. That is the point where I had to start really concentrating, and also when things started to become really tense and I had problems putting the book down just to make a cup of tea!

I liked the way the author (the real one that is - Gentill) included Covid as a sort of aside to the story rather than featuring it all the time. She has added some good notes at the end about the issue that Covid has been to all authors currently writing novels. I enjoyed the mystery, the little romance between Freddie and Cain, Hannah's smart moves regarding Leo and the rather edgy ending. I smiled at the reference to Australian chocolate being superior to American, remembering when I arrived in Australia from the UK and thought it was dreadful. Of course I love it now - it is all a case of what you are used to.

This is an excellent book as I would expect from this author. I still yearn for more from her Rowland Sinclair series though.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
444 reviews714 followers
September 3, 2022
"The Woman in the Library" is an entertaining Mystery!

All is quiet in the Boston Public Library's beautifully ornate reading room until a woman's blood curdling scream breaks the silence. As security investigates, four strangers sitting at the same table share conversation that seems to spark quick friendships. When they discover a woman has been murdered, someone at the table wonders which one of the other three is responsible...

This mystery is a story within a story that's fun and playful but knowing too much before you begin might spoil it for you. Just know that I was intrigued and pleasantly confused through its entirety.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Katherine Littrell who did a great job with the accents but I found her gender voicing to be a bit off, which is what led to my 'pleasant confusion'. Although, I do love and often prefer audiobook's, I think an e-copy or print copy is the best way to go for this one.

An entertaining Whodunit with great characters, several socially relevant topics, and two stories for the price of one is an enticing mixture. I'm wondering, though, could Leo and his emails be any more annoying and distracting? Read it to find out!
Profile Image for Debra .
2,415 reviews35.2k followers
May 25, 2022
In every person's story, there is something to hide...

A Book within a book, what a clever premise. It's been done before but not as cleverly as this!

Hannah Tigone is an Australian mystery writer who is writing a book set in Boston. In her book, Winifred “Freddie” Kincaid, who is also an Australian writer, has come to Boston on a writer's scholarship. She went to the Boston Library looking for inspiration when she heard a woman's terrified scream. She along with others, who were sitting at her table, begin talking when the library tells them no one can leave right away following the scream. Everyone has their own reasons for being at the library that day. One of them is also a murderer.

Hannah Tigone has a beta reader who she corresponds with throughout the book. You will be privy to their correspondence throughout the book.

As the book within a book progress, readers learn more about the characters, their motivations, their suspicions, their unease, and their connections. Who can be trusted? Who has secrets? Who is not as they seem?

This was a clever whodunit. I was fully invested and did my own detective work while reading. There were sections in this book were things slowed down a little, but I didn't mind. I was enjoying the book too much.

I had the privilege of having both the audiobook and e-book versions and enjoyed going back and forth between the two. This one kept me on my toes as there are many characters and of course, there is the book within a book. It never got confusing and yet I needed to pay close attention.

Clever, entertaining, original, and captivating.

Thank you to Dreamscape Media, Poisoned Pen Press, and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews531 followers
June 24, 2022
It took me a while to get through this one - because of all the sensory interruptions! Apart from the multi-layered story within a story plot, the descriptions of the numerous trips to local coffee houses and the vegetarian meal preps would trigger a hunger response in me and off I'd go to the kitchen!

This book appeals on all levels: the Boston Public Library, which the author describes in enticing detail, is now on my list of places I need to see BIKTB. Bookish people and wannabe writers will appreciate the discussion of the mechanics of writing a novel/thriller. Loads of misdirection, and not one but TWO budding romantic relationships - and, oh no! one of them, according to Freddie, is a KILLER!!! (This blind-siding clue is tossed at the reader very early on in the narrative, so no spoilers here.)

Essentially, the author is having fun with all of the "tropes" and writing devices available to a professional story-teller. And to make things even more interesting, the main character (who is a celebrated author) has an Avid Fan. (Or is he really a delusional stalker? Hmmmmm!)

Freddie, Marigold, Whit and Cain band together to solve the murder of a fellow library patron. Everyone is a suspect - heck, I even suspected Freddie! Things get complicated when these amateur sleuths become the main suspects in the case. In self-defense, they decide to sift through the evidence and clues that the police are so obviously oblivious to!

What an action-packed, satisfying ending! Was that a cliff hanger, or yet again the blatant use of a standard trope? I suppose your guess is as good as mine, because this is my first read by this author - but not my last. The totally engrossing storytelling and the four attractive main characters kept me turning the page right to the very end. A very clever tale, indeed! Spoiler alert:

My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Joanna Chu (The ChuseyReader).
160 reviews216 followers
June 15, 2022
I was tossing up between 1 or 2 stars. Settled on 2 stars as there are other 1 stars that have annoyed me more than this.

~ Quick Summary ~

Book within a book of an author writing about the friendship formed between 4 strangers brought together by a scream in the library, their lives, hanging out together and the mystery of the murder and between them.

~ Pick this up if you enjoy/don’t mind the following ~

🕵️‍♀️Light mystery

📙 Story within a story format

📧 Emails from a beta reader giving feedback of above story

📚Book is based in the library at the start only, ~5-10%

~ What I Enjoyed ~

To be honest there wasn’t anything that I really liked…I quite enjoyed the Australian vs American English words, that was fun.

~ What I didn’t enjoy ~

From the title and blurb I was expecting for most of the book to be based in the library, I was so interested to see how the author would pull that off. But, after the short scene, it mostly explores the new friendship group formed and their lives outside of the library. In fact, I forgot what the original premise was meant to be. The library setting was what piqued my interest but then it became a forgettable mystery.

There was so much meandering of the characters going about their lives and hanging out, the whole book just felt disorganised and disjointed. I wasn’t impressed with how the mystery came together and the reveal. Most of the actual investigation was in the last 10%. You know that moment when a major puzzle piece is revealed and leads the character to have that light bulb moment thinking they’ve figured out the mystery? That puzzle piece was rather weak I had to reread to confirm.

I did not like Leo’s email at all. It was just distracting and
There was a lot of mention of including COVID in the story and explicitly mentioning the race and color of the characters. To be honest I’m not really sure what was the aim here? Was it to explore some issues or raise some interesting book club questions, I’m not sure especially when they came from such a character…

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and Netgalley for the eARC.
Profile Image for JaymeO.
407 reviews304 followers
May 10, 2022
“Jesus Take the Wheel!” -Marigold

Hannah Tigone is an Australian author, who is writing a locked room mystery that takes place in Boston. She is sending drafts of each chapter to Leo, her research assistant in The United States. Leo’s comments and suggestions help her shape the book into the The Woman In The Library. This story within a story format continues throughout the book while Leo’s comments become increasingly more dark.

Four strangers meet in the Boston Public Library when they all hear a woman scream. The scream bonds them into a new friendship. When the owner of the scream is found murdered, one of them is accused. Who killed the woman in the library?

Heroic chin - Whit Metters
Handsome man - Cain McLeod
Freud girl - Marigold Anastas
Writer - Winnifred Kincaid (Freddie)

One of these characters might be guilty of murder. Which one?

After reading Sulari Gentill’s After She Wrote Him (which I highly recommend), I couldn’t wait to read her latest twisty thriller. She has a knack for messing with the reader’s mind through her own creative take on storytelling. I was expecting something similar with this one, but I think I over-prepared myself.

This book alternates between two perspectives and while it sounds like it might be confusing, it did not mess with my brain as much as her previous book. (I absolutely love books that are difficult to figure out). I am not sure if it was because I was reading the ARC, but Leo’s chapters have sections of unfinished thoughts written in red. This threw me through a loop trying to figure out if that was intentional. If it was, then why? Or is it just because it is an ARC? But in the end, unfortunately I’m still not sure!

Who is Hannah? I would have liked to learn more about Hannah, as she appears as more of a background character. The reader does not hear her perspective, only the letters sent from Leo.

I really enjoyed the mystery, but found the reveal to be slightly lackluster. The characters are fully fleshed and I connected with all of them. However, the friendship of the foursome does come off as fairly unrealistic.

The social commentary on racial equality, pandemics, and homelessness is well-written. Gentill does a nice job introducing these ideas without it becoming too preachy. It also helps to account for the real world issues that we are dealing with in 2022.

Overall, the story within a story is not as successful as I would have hoped. Although, she did have me pointed in the wrong direction due to my presumptions. Those who are new to her writing may have a very different experience.

This reverse locked-room mystery had me intrigued from start to finish. I highly recommend it if you enjoy this genre!

4/5 stars

Expected publication date 6/7/22

Thank you to Edelweiss and Sourcebooks publishing for the ARC of The Woman in the Library in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Marialyce (on our way to Venice).
2,038 reviews710 followers
August 1, 2022
This was an enjoyable story (perhaps more than one) that held this reader's interest as four people come together in a library after hearing a piercing scream. The four people bond and as our main character, Hannah is writing a book, and she decides to incorporate her newly found friends into the story line. It's something like art imitating life.

It turns out to be a story within a story within a story and at times I will confess I did find myself confused. However, the concept and carry through made this a tale of a murder done by .......... a fun but circuitous read! (I am not telling.)

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book already published.
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