REVIEW: The Woman in the Library

If I can only recommend one book this year, this might be a contender. I consider this to possibly be the best crime/mystery book I’ve ever read.

The Woman in the Library
by Sulari Gentill


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. 


A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a book I’ll definitely remember.

It opens in a strange way. A writer named Leo is writing to Hannah, and you learn that they have an established relationship of some kind. It seemed a little out of place, but you go along with it. Then you’re introduced to Freddie in the library, where the title made a bit more sense. You wonder if the book is printed right.

Then, just as you’re about to finish Chapter One, you see the following letter from Leo, complimenting the recipient and giving American cultural pointers. It breaks the 4th wall, takes a meta turn and ruined all initial understanding of what a story is. Suddenly, you have no idea what you’ve signed up for.

I didn’t expect to be immediately drawn to the story by Hannah’s first paragraph. In her manuscript, the main character, Freddie, is a writer who was turning to the people around her in the Boston Public Library as her muse for a story she was writing. We are then introduced to Freud Girl, a psychology student whose arms were heavily tattooed, Heroic Chin, a law student whose looks reminded her of a typical hero, and Handsome Man, another writer who she is drawn to immediately. Then a woman’s scream broke out in the library, leaving these four confused and it seems like an appropriate way to start a conversation with these strangers.

Leo’s letters were a great addition to the storyline. I love the foreshadowing of having 3 potential suspects, and how each person had developed reasons why they would be suspicious. The events were so meticulously planned and everything seemed to be working against them. There were so many questions, suspicions, and twists and turns at every corner. I’ve doubted everyone, even the protagonist, Freddie.

Leo’s letters made this book stand out from all the other mysteries I’ve read so far. And while I have no clue what inspired the author to include such a plot, I’m absolutely grateful for it.

I definitely, highly recommend it.


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