Strangers by C. L. Taylor

‘Alice Fletcher has never seen a dead body before.’

Tense and twisty, this is the second novel I’ve read by Ms Taylor.  It opens with Alice Fletcher standing over a body.  She is not alone: Gareth and Ursula are with her:

‘We say it was self-defence.’

But who are these three people?  They do not know each other.  And who is dead and why?

The novel is set in Bristol, UK.  The story moves between Ursula, Gareth and Alice with occasional social media responses to missing men and a ‘Harbourside murderer’.  We learn of Ursula’s past, of the challenges Gareth is facing as his mother’s dementia becomes more severe, and of Alice’s dating attempts.

I’m not going to write more about the story because to describe it in more detail will provide (albeit inadvertently) some of the twists that kept me turning the pages and trying to work out ‘who’ and ‘why’.  It’s cleverly done: chapters ending with cliff-hangers (and there were a few) kept me reading, trying to work out what would happen next.

The storylines connect, in mostly satisfying ways, by the end.  Each of the main characters is well-drawn as are most of the secondary characters.  And, while I don’t need all the loose ends to be drawn together and tied off, this is one novel where I was quietly grateful that they were.

Recommended.  A great way to spend a couple of hours!

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith