The Secrets of Strangers

The Secrets of Strangers : A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick

4.44 (4,580 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for a group of strangers whose paths cross in a London cafe - 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?

Another tense, multi-dimensional drama from the writer of the Richard & Judy bestseller AFTER THE FALL.

'tautly plotted, gripping and emotional' - Clare Mackintosh
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 21mm | 248g
  • Allen & Unwin
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1911630415
  • 9781911630418
  • 15,865

Review quote

I love coming across a great book from an established author I haven't read before. The plot turns around a group of strangers whose lives will be altered forever when they are involved in a hostage situation in a London cafe. Brilliant storytelling kept me turning the pages. -- Nina Pottell * Prima * A gunman takes eight customers hostage at a London cafe and, as the situation develops, we hear the characters' stories, including those of the gunman and police negotiator, and how their lives are all connected. It's the well-written
characters in this fast-paced story that keep you turning the pages. -- Joanne Finney * Good Housekeeping * A compelling and fresh premise leads to a tense, humane, and touching novel * Claire McGowan * The Secrets of Strangers binds you to its heart-wrenching story, until the tension is almost too much but you have to read on. Masterful, heartbreaking and compelling, every page is touched with darkness and hope in a moving hymn to humanity which had me in tears. Beautifully written, ingeniously crafted, if you're looking for a book that's groundbreakingly different, read this. Five stars, without a shadow of a doubt. * Erin Kinsley * Norman skilfully plays with our perceptions and sympathies in this tautly plotted, gripping and emotional read. -- Clare Mackintosh Charity Norman beautifully captures the fear, and the surprising solace, to be found in a situation that has gone way beyond a person's control. In this elegantly told tale of the power of humanity to save and destroy, Charity's writing is full of compassion and compulsion. -- Caroline Bond, bestselling author of THE SECOND CHILD I've read a few books by Charity Norman and enjoyed them but I think this one is the best. . . . an extremely powerful book that is hard to put down and one I highly recommend. * GoodReads * riveting, moving and unputdownable, just like the cover said * GoodReads * Charity Norman aces the hostage drama in The Secret of Strangers

The narrative is as tense and well-written as any Jodi Picoult drama, the characters are engaging and sometimes bring you to tears, even the dogs caught up in the crisis can draw out a sympathetic reader sniffle.

Norman has created a terrific suspense novel that ultimately shows how people might behave under extreme pressure and reminds us that dealing with issues as they happen can save a lot of angst if they're left to fester. -- Felicity Price * The Press ( * While this certainly works as a siege thriller - much of the power comes from the slow reveal of the reasons behind the Ritalin-popping gunman's actions . . . in a genre which often celebrates style over substance this is a compelling and moving novel which should bring Norman to a whole new world of readers * New Zealand Herald * The narrative is as tense and well-written as any Jodi Picoult drama... a terrific suspense novel * Sunday Star-Times (New Zealand) * The beauty of The Secrets of Strangers is in its intricate, slowly-built story encapsulated within the fast-paced situation. Charity Norman manages to give moments of tragedy time to breathe while reminding us of the precarious position the characters are still in. This story is driven by its characters and how they can influence one another, highlighting Norman's mastery of creating strong, believable personas and her finesse for nuance.

The Secrets of Strangers thrives on the unmasking of histories, motivations and character connections, so I won't reveal any twists, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the core story of gaslighting, manipulation and control. It takes a while to understand the trauma experienced by one particular character, but once their pain is fully realised it is hard not to be overwhelmed with sympathy and grief.

This book was hard to put down and even harder to stop thinking about. It is truly a devastating story wrapped in heartbreak with a beautiful ending to soothe the anguish. This is one I must recommend. * Booktopia * a tense thriller that takes a hostage drama set-up ... then layers on character depth and emotional impact. * The Listener *
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About Charity Norman

Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years' travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand.

THE SECRETS OF STRANGERS is her sixth novel.

Find Charity on Facebook at and on Twitter as @charitynorman1.
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Rating details

4,580 ratings
4.44 out of 5 stars
5 57% (2,615)
4 32% (1,475)
3 8% (388)
2 2% (73)
1 1% (29)
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