The Secrets of Strangers
by Charity Norman
It’s my stop on the “The Secrets of Strangers” blog tour! Allen and Unwin have provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and a big thank you goes to Anne Cater for the invite. If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads and head over to the author’s Twitter page.
A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage. But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?
“Pandemonium. The cafe’s erupting like a fairground ride gone wrong: high-pitched screeches, someone screaming, It’s a bomb! People are crawling under tables while others claw their way through a panicking bottleneck at the door. A little boy crouches on the floor beside a woman in a beret. The child’s arms are curled over his head. A man in a suit actually trips over the poor kid – falls against a chair, scrambles up and legs it. Sofia has grabbed a couple of schoolgirls by their clothes and is dragging them towards the courtyard at the back, yelling for others to follow. This way! Come on, come on!”
Can you imagine popping to your local cafe for your morning coffee on the way to work to find yourself involved in a hostage situation? That’s what’s happened in “The Secrets of Strangers”, a gripping story that kept me in suspense throughout.
The beginning of the book is particularly strong, starting with a verbal confrontation in a fictional cafe in Balham. One of the men involved leaves the cafe before returning with a shotgun, firing his weapon and taking hostages.
The rest of the story follows this tense lockdown and the backstory that lead to these terrible events. There are several hostages to begin with, but the key characters here are Mutesi, Abi and Neil Mutesi is a nurse in a care home, Abi is a lawyer and Neil is a homeless man who had only popped in for a quick drink and to use the loo. We also hear from the negotiation team.
I really like the title of this book and it’s significance in the story. This is the kind of story that makes you realise that we know very little about one another, that everyone is living a life that you rarely even think about, everyone has their own secrets.
I enjoyed the writing style and enjoyed the fact that although this was a tense setting, it also focused on the more human side of life, digging deep into the lives of those involved. I’d definitely recommend you’d give this book a try.
Overall rating: “The Secrets of Strangers” is a compelling story of a hostage situation in a Balham cafe. That may sounds a bit intense, but this story is more than that, diving deep into the lives of those involved and exploring the secrets that we all keep. It’s 4 stars from me!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle or Paperback through Amazon UK or your local bookshop.