“The Woman in the Library”

A book about writing a book, and a murder

“The Woman in the Library” is a multi-layered book within a book. The narrator is a writer, and the story unfolds in her first-person narrative.   She struggles, thinks, and talks to herself as she writes.  She is writing in the Boston Public Library, but that turns out to be a mistake when she meets people, a group with whom she will soon form complex relationships. They are four previous strangers, Cain, Whit, Marigold, and her. They seem to recognize each other, as if they had been friends before in a life now forgotten. The narrator, of course, is writing a book, and what good subjects they will be. They gather in the reading room. The narrator writes for a while, and then there is a scream, terrifying and chilling. In the silence after the scream stops, they realize that the quiet library will never be the same for any of them. They found friendship in the library; nothing bonds strangers better than a shared mystery, and the author has her first coffee with a killer.

Readers discover that this story about an aspiring novelist is a book about the writing of a book being written by one Hannah Tigone. Hannah is not a writer who “plots,” planning each clue in advance, but a “pantser” who writes page by page as things appear in her mind.  Her mystery of strangers bonded by a scream unfolds in a first-person conversational style; clues appear; events become crystalized. Between chapters, Hannah, the writer, has correspondence with a “beta reader” Leo Johnson, also a writer and a fan, who sends comments, suggestions, and opinions to Hanna, chapter by chapter. His questions help Hanna give form to her swirling ideas, but his correspondence becomes increasingly judgmental.  Then, she receives another letter, but not from Leo.

“The Woman in the Library” has many layers that unfold slowly and precisely. It is like a “locked room” mystery in reverse. Readers must uncover not only the criminal, but the crime as well.  I received a review copy of “The Woman in the Library” from Sulari Gentill, Sourcebooks, and Poisoned Pen Press. It is a compelling look at the complex process of writing a thriller. Some clues are easy to follow and others are quite surprising.

“The Woman in the Library” is now available in print, as an e-book, and on audio from independent bookstores, online booksellers, retail stores, public libraries and anywhere you get your books.

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