Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Avon – Harper Collins
Pub Date: 2nd April 2020
Review Date: 11th June 2020
Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.
Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.
None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die. Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.
Strangers by C L Taylor is a compulsive psychological thriller that hooks the reader from the very first page. Starting with the story’s climax and from Alice’s perspective, the narrative shows Alice, Ursula, and Gareth surrounded by some kind of gruesome blood bath, in a disorientated state not knowing how to deal with a dead body. The novel then flashes back one week before continuing with a linear structure that alternates the third-person perspectives of Alice, Ursula, and Gareth to reveal how these three strangers ended up in the position they are in.
Loneliness is one of the main themes running through the novel and this is no exception for divorced shop manager Alice. Whilst there are three main characters, Alice is the central protagonist: not only is she the first character we meet, but she is also the link that connects the other characters. Fed up of being on her own, Alice decides to bite the bullet and goes on a blind date with Michael, who she has met on Tinder. But when Michael turns up for their date half cut, then follows her to the toilet before telling her ‘You only had to ask if you wanted a quickie,’ Alice swiftly makes her exit; but not before dropping her bag, where its contents are scattered all over the floor. But all is not lost with Alice’s love life when a stranger who was also in the pub chases after her with the purse she left behind.
This scene introduces Gareth, who works as a security officer at The Meads, the shopping mall where Alice works. Sat in front of the CCTV screens, Gareth spots Alice being chased by a man and makes the wrong assumption that he is trying to attack her. Gareth’s story then splinters away from any connection with Alice as we learn about his own heart-breaking story; where, as a middle-aged man, he is unable to lead a life of his own as he is the main carer for his elderly mother who has dementia.
Ursula is a kleptomaniac and is connected to Alice as she has been shoplifting from the shop where Alice works. Despite the fact that she’s pretty much a criminal, I absolutely loved Ursula and she was definitely my favourite character. When Ursula is thrown out of the house she shares with her best friend for stealing her things, she moves into another house-share with the creepy Ed. But Ursula is on strict instructions to stay away from the cellar – and with the strange sounds that can be heard coming from this dark and creepy place, readers will be shouting at Ursula to stay well away!
Strangers is absolutely bursting with red herrings, which together with the clever way in which C L Taylor brings the different storylines together makes for one utterly addictive read. I have loved all of C L Taylor's books but this is definitely her best yet!
I recommend this book for fans of Jo Ullah, Louise Jensen, and Cara Hunter.
About the Author
Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on to forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014. She lives in Bristol with her partner and son. Sign up to join the CL Taylor Book Club for access to news, updates and information that isn't available on the web, as well as exclusive newsletter-only competitions and giveaways and the books that CL Taylor thinks will be the next big thing. You will also receive THE LODGER for free when you join: http://www.callytaylor.co.uk/cltaylorbookclub.html
Thank you to the publisher for an Advance Review Copy of this book.