Strangers is the most unpredictable thriller I’ve read in a long time. An irresistibly dark thriller that was full of clever suspense and fascinating characters. Three main protagonists – Alice, Gareth and Ursula –all have very different personalities and are vividly portrayed with great care and depth. Each character carries a story thread that interacts with the Meads Shopping Centre in Bristol.
Alice is a store manager at a fashion shop in the Meads, separated from her husband and now actively dating again. There is a lot going on in her life with her adult daughter and her partner, plus the new men coming into her own life. Gareth is head of security at Meads and monitors all the CCTV coverage at the Centre. He is an older man with various work and family issues and lives with his elderly mother who has dementia. Ursula is my favourite character, unattractive and unusually tall, she is still reeling from a major loss in her life and her own life is falling apart. She is a delivery person with precarious employment conditions and often shops in the Meads.
What impressed me most within this novel, were the characters that C.L. Taylor created, each individual, each bringing a new perspective and each wrestling with major issues in their lives. Taylor has an amazing way of showing contrasts in her characters and as the story progresses we see that first impressions can often be mistaken. Actions are often a consequence of some underlying issue and as these become apparent our view of certain characters change. Some of the scenarios I found a little unrealistic and wondered about Alice’s behaviour and thought process.
Several other dubious characters add to the complexity and bring the threat and menace to the story. The plotting is great and the chapters are short and punchy, maintaining a great momentum through each thread until the climactic conclusion. The convergence of the three stories is explosive, and you can probably guess where that will happen.
An unpredictable and restlessly dark thriller that is full of surprises and one I would rate 4.5 stars and highly recommend. I would like to thank Avon Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.