Strangers by C.L. Taylor – a thriller with loneliness at its heart

The three main characters in CL Taylor’s Strangers have led entirely separate lives up to the moment when fate brings them together at a death scene in a Bristol shopping centre.

Ursula, a courier and occasional shoplifter, is a lonely, but sympathetic character, who has lost the lover of her life Nathan. Despite her light-fingered ways, which see her evicted by her flatmates, there is a kindness in Ursula which comes out strongly at certain points in Strangers and makes her more likeable than she perhaps appears at first sight. She’s impulsive, with a tendency to land herself in sticky situations that sometimes force her to make bad decisions. One such situation is, involves her decision to move in with a creepy landlord who actually gave me nightmares at one point when reading this novel

Gareth, a security guard in the shopping centre and a carer for his elderly mother also plays a key role Strangers, part of the significance of which only emerges towards the end of the novel.

Meanwhile the third character, Alice, recently back on the dating scene, is being stalked in a threatening way that seems to have something to do with her new boyfriend. But who is the stalker and why are they targeting Alice?

What I liked about Strangers is that the characters are individually strong and interesting. I also liked the short chapters, which make Strangers easy to pick up and put down again without losing the thread of the story.

Previously on this blog, I reviewed another CL Taylor novel, The Accident – a psychological thriller about an emotionally unstable mother determined to find out why her daughter deliberately stepped in front of a bus. You can find that review here.

Strangers by CL Taylor is published by Avon, a division of Harper Collins.

[Disclosure: I received an advance proof copy].

Psychological thriller about a mother determined to uncover her daughter’s secret

The Accident by CL Taylor is a psychological thriller about an emotionally unstable mother determined to find out why her daughter deliberately stepped in front of a bus.

Charlotte, the teenage daughter, is in a coma and Sue believes that finding the truth behind the accident may help her daughter’s recovery.

Parallel to Sue’s quest for answers runs the story of an abusive relationship in her own past that has left her living in fear of her former lover, James Evans.

While it is clear that past and present are somehow connected, the full picture emerges only at the very end.

While not without flaws, and stronger on plot than on character, The Accident is a quick read with plenty of suspense making for an interesting, if at times implausible, story.

Sue’s past which includes ‘episodes’ of psychological instability make her an interesting unreliable narrator and add to the suspense of the novel. A little less emphasis on her sexual history and a bit more attention to other aspects of her character might have made her a more fully-rounded and sympathetic protagonist which, in my opinion, would have strengthened this novel.

The Accident by C L Taylor is published by HarperCollins UK / Avon. An Advance Readers Copy (ARC) was provided via for the purpose of this review.

PS. If you like this, you might also be interested in Mother, Mother by Koran Zailckas.