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STRANGERS
by Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel
Minotaur, January 2018
320 pages
$25.99
ISBN: 1250113067


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Joanna Berrigan, a young woman, is thinking of making tea and settling down with a book when she is suddenly faced with an intruder in her home—an intruder who says he is her fiancé, although she has no memory of him.

That's enough of a hook for a novel, but the authors alternate chapters between Joanna and Erik Thieben, the boyfriend. Who do you believe? Both present their stories, which seem quite believable. Not only does Joanna not have any memory of Erik, but there's nothing in the house that suggest they live together, as Erik insists. Erik, in chapters told through his point of view, grapples with Joanna's memory loss and wonders if Joanna has had a mental breakdown. He persuades Joanna to visit a neurologist, who suggests Joanna's amnesia—contained only to Erik—may be tied to a traumatic event.

Suddenly, strange and dangerous events happen to both characters. Is there someone trying to pull them apart, or even kill them? Or is one of them hiding something?

The book starts with a good setup, but it takes a long time for the pacing to pick up. When it finally does, we get a nice, taut thriller. The setting—Germany—adds another layer of interest. Unfortunately, the ultimate answer as to what is going on is abrupt and a little farfetched—and not that surprising. While the novel has an intriguing premise, ultimately it falls short of what it could have been.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, February 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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