The Secrets of Strangers 

Reviewed By  Nan van Dissel       April 5, 2020


Author  Charity Norman

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781760876715
Publisher:         Allen and Unwin
Release Date:   March 2020  


One random act of violence results in the lives of five strangers becoming unexpectedly intertwined. Sam, rushes into the Tuckbox Café in Balham, London to confront the owner Robert, his stepfather. Minutes later Robert is shot dead and the patrons inside are held prisoner. With a few captives released, Mutesi, a nurse, Neil, a homeless gambling addict and Abi, a defense barrister, remain as hostages; all there at the wrong place and wrong time. As news stations’ broadcast developments, DI Eliza McClean heads a team as the negotiator, in this tense standoff.

In the day long negotiations, Sam’s extremely poignant story and the reason for his drastic action evolves, as does insight into the lives of the other main protagonists; secrets unravel, issues are disclosed and the fight for survival becomes imperative. With the passing hours the hostages become a unit as they care for each other and for Sam.

The siege in Charity Norman’s book ‘The Secrets of Strangers’ conjures up images of a similar incident in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe, where people who were just carrying out their daily lives were trapped in a volatile hostage situation.  As the author develops the characters, each with a history of which they previously have not shared, she creates a palpable tension, along with an overwhelming sadness for the hostages and Sam.

Readers who enjoy stories of human nature, personalities and perceptions will enjoy this book and will be kept guessing as they try to resolve the questions of ‘why’ and ‘who’.