‘Strangers’ – C.L. Taylor

A well-constructed thriller, that culminates in a tense event, before trying to tie everything up in a way that had me shaking my head.
Our three main characters – Ursula, Gareth and Alice – are strangers. They exist on the periphery of one another, and are connected though we don’t learn how until late on.
Each of these three has something impacting on their life. Ursula blames herself for the death of her boyfriend. Gareth is struggling to cope with caring for his mother. Alice is a mother trying to start dating again. We follow them through the small steps they make to move forward, but little things start taking place that have us suspicious as to what exactly is going on. In the background are rumours of a serial killer murdering lone men on the riverbank – though this is very much a minor detail.
Much of the action takes place in the homes of the three characters, or the shopping centre in Bristol that ties them together. We grow to learn a lot about each character. Though they may not be all that likeable in some ways, what we learn about them does impact on how we react to each.
As events progress we start to piece together little details. The growing sense of unease ratchets up the tension, eventually leading us to the ‘big finale’ where a number of key questions are resolved.
While I found myself totally caught up in the story I felt less as we neared the conclusion. Some of the actions felt quite unlikely based on what we knew of the characters, and the need to resolve every little detail (yes, I’m talking about the seemingly minor background plot detail of the disappearing men) did mean we were suddenly dropped into something that made little sense. Perhaps this was felt necessary to tie up loose ends, but it made me rethink some of what I’d read and, personally, I could have left events with this never being explained more fully.
Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication.