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The Secrets of Strangers

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  5,467 ratings  ·  599 reviews
A gunshot rings out in a London cafe and the lives of five strangers will never be the same again. The only thing that's certain is that nothing is as it seems.

Five strangers, one cafe - and the day that everything changed.

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 ag
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Allen & Unwin
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Charity Norman Oh dear, sorry Vickie. No, it hasn't been delayed. But it may not be available in Amazon depending on which country you're in? …moreOh dear, sorry Vickie. No, it hasn't been delayed. But it may not be available in Amazon depending on which country you're in? (less)
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Average rating 4.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,467 ratings  ·  599 reviews

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Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read a few books by Charity Norman and enjoyed them but I think this one is the best. This is a very moving and fast paced story that takes you in directions you don’t expect. The start is electrifying when there’s a confrontation in the Tuckbox Cafe in Balham, London between the owner Robert and Sam, who turns out to be his stepson. Sam storms out, returns with a shotgun and shoots Robert and this turns into a tense hostage situation. The principal hostages are Mutesi, a nurse in a care ho ...more

Tuckbox was their café of choice – near to the London railway station so customers could grab a quick takeaway coffee before jumping onto the train and heading into work. But one weekday morning, as strangers converged on Tuckbox, all with their own agendas, another person was about to change their lives. A volatile, angry young man entered Tuckbox; words were exchanged, and he left. But within minutes he’d returned, and this time he held a shotgun in his hands. Terror reigned as shots were
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
I think that this is a book you should go into fairly blind to fully enjoy the story. It is and one where the author manages to turn the tables and have us feeling sorry for people you would not expect to. The characters are so well written that you feel that you are in the cafe with them. This was the first book by Charity Norman that I have read but I certainly will be looking for more by her in the future.

All you really need to know about this book is:

One Monday morning in the Tuckbox Cafe in
The Tuckbox café situated near the London railway station was a popular and convenient place for those who were wanting their morning coffee or a quick snack to eat as they hurried to catch their train. It appeared to be just another normal weekday until a man enters the Tuckbox café holding a shotgun.

The fear and terror among those in the café was felt by all when shots were fired. Some people were lucky enough to escape, but a few were not so lucky and found them self being taken hostage by t
What a story!

The Strangers with the Secrets find themselves unwillingly spending the day in a cafe after a dude with a shotgun holds them all hostage.

That's it.

That's the plot.

And I can't tell you how much I enjoyed learning about these strangers. This is one of those books that reminds you that everyone is living a life you know nothing about. It was fascinating and gut-wrenching and these people were so real to me and I felt all their triumphs and heartbreaks as my own.

Honestly I don't wa
Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

**4.5 stars**

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman. (2020).

A regular weekday morning veers drastically off course for a group of strangers in a London café when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage. But there is more to the situation than 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 liv
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.5 stars rounded up

A few strangers stop in their local coffee shop in Balham to pick up their morning dose of caffeine unaware that they'll become hostages to a madman with a gun who came to settle once and for all with the owner of the cafe. 

They have seemingly nothing in common, each one of them has their own story and yet, they'll become connected for life. Abi - a young successful lawyer who's been trying to get pregnant for years, Neil - a rough sleeper who was once a teacher with a wife a
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It’s Monday morning in London and Tuckbox Cafe is busy with customers.
People heading to work and school, on their way home from night shift or popping in for a coffee to warm them up. A man enters the cafe with a shotgun and alters the course of their day.
This is a hostage situation and we get to know all the characters including the hostage negotiator.
I really enjoyed this book and the interaction of the characters involved.
Thank you to NetGalley and Atlantic Books for my e-copy in exchange f
Rachel Hall
An armed siege with unrealistically empathetic characters & cringeworthy social commentary.

I was expecting to be floored by the brilliance of Charity Norman’s novel given the compelling premise of an armed siege in a cafe uniting a group of strangers who happen to bear witness to the event. Disappointingly I never felt it lived up to the billing, lacked tension and ended up feeling like a public service broadcast intended to illustrate the ideal handling of such a situation!

The story gets off to
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a read! This is how thrillers should be written; it certainly deserves to be a bestseller as it is masterfully crafted, taut and completely riveting. It sucks you in from the opening pages and had me reading well into the night. The incident at the cafe is all too real and reflects the fact that many more people are turning to extremism and committing terrible atrocities all over the world. But not only is it thrilling and intense it packs a real emotional punch too. This is one of the nove ...more
In brief - What a roller coaster - extremely powerful at times too. 4.5/5.

In full

Something about this book appealed to me. The blurb says that things go off course for a group of strangers at a London cafe one morning - it sounded interesting and I intentionally read no more. So the book opens with random strangers at or around the Tuckbox in Balham. From the start we know that Neil is one of them. He and his dog Buddy are on the streets but someone has kindly dropped some money in his tin mug.
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

‘The one night. It was a random chance, you see? Like being in here today. This was a random chance too.’

Charity Norman as shortlisted for the Best Crime Novel in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Crime and she utilises this expertise to present a new crime thriller. The Secrets of Strangers is brimming with dark secrets, shocking revelations and complex issues relating to the heart of humanity. Charity Norman’s explosive new offering is absorbing from the fir
Theresa Smith
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘The early moments of a siege are the most dangerous. Attackers panic. The lizard brain takes over: the primeval fight-or-flight response, smothering rational thought. They can’t run, so they lash out. They do appalling things: things that their friends and family can’t believe of them; things they can’t believe of themselves when they look back later.’

I liked this book far more than I anticipated. I expected a crime story, a cafe under siege, tense right the way through, more focus on the event
*thank you to Allen & Unwin for an ARC of this book*

5 stars!

Ohh man. By the end of this I was wanting to give this 7 stars total. What an amazing story this was!

While it wasn't really much of a thriller/mystery as I had thought, that didn't matter one bit. Yeah it was still partially a thriller but it was also a drama. Normally such books in not keen on so the fact I gave this 5 and want to add a bonus 2 stars, says Ohh so much.

The Story is of 5 strangers who are at a London Cafe called The Tuck
Tracy Fenton
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of Charity Norman, she is one of those authors who manages to bring each character to life in your mind with incredible detail and once again she’s created a stunning, thought-provoking and highly emotive story in The Secrets of Strangers.

Set in a cafe in Balham, London “Tuckbox” is a busy coffee shop, packed with commuters, parents on school runs, gym mummies gossiping over a cappuccino and customers getting their caffeine fix before the day begins. Owned and run by the friendly
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
I’ve been struggling with how to review Charity Norman’s latest novel “The Secrets of Strangers” as I wasn’t expecting it to be the book it was. I had convinced myself this was a crime/psychological novel, since its billed as a thriller involving five strangers held hostage in a London cafe by a crazed gunman. However, although there is police negotiators involved, this was for me very much more a character study. All the characters are diverse and with each one having a unique and intriguing in ...more
Catherine Stead
Aug 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cannot recommend enough.
Behind the eyes of a Young Offender.
Bree T
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, mystery, arc
I made the mistake of taking this book with me to my son’s swimming lesson, to read during that. The swimming lesson is only 30min plus the time it takes for my son to get changed. It was a big mistake because when it was time to go, I did not want to put this book down at all. If you start it, do so when you have plenty of time. Because it sucks you in immediately and takes you on the most unexpected journey.

It seems relatively straightforward at first – it’s early morning at a cafe in London,
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lockdown has enabled me to change my reading rituals. No longer do I snatch a chapter or two as I grab a coffee between work chores. Instead, I've put aside one day per weekend to read, and I finished this amazing story in just one day. It's an ironic read for lockdown, but actually puts our situation into a little perspective. We are not prisoners; we may be struggling, but we still have the freedom to walk out of our door, and to speak to, if not actually see, our loved ones.

What excites me m
Amelia Strydom
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindlelibrary
What a suspenseful, heart-wrenching, yet ultimately life-affirming read. I felt like I was right beside the characters in that cozy coffee shop turned murder-and-hostage scene. I fell in love with each of them and rooted for them until the end, which was realistic and hopeful without being saccharine sweet. Ms. Norman is a wonderful writer and I am so looking forward to reading ALL her other books.
Karen Wicks
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Started reading this Sunday morning and finished it Monday morning.
I found it absolutely riveting, moving and unputdownable, Just like the cover said.
The characters were all believable and my opinion on some of them changed as I got further into the book.
I can't say anymore, without spoiling it - all I can say is read it!
Natalie "Curling up with a Coffee and a Kindle" Rampling
To listen to an audiobook in 2 days really says it all!
Such a good listen, superb characters that are well defined and a gripping plot that made me constantly have my phone playing.
I was debating between 4 and 5 stars for this, because there was a section in the second half that slowed it down a little, but having reflected, I feel it was necessary to give the background on the characters and the events that lead up to what happened.
Never listened to an audiobook quicker!
Loved it.
Lauren Young
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My heart broke for 98% of the characters in this book. When you read it i guess you will figure out which ones my heart did not break for. Brilliant story. It had me hooked from the beginning.
Jo Spain
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute page-turner. Heartwarming and thrilling.
Ali Kennedy
You know when you see an unassuming present under the tree on Christmas morning? Then you open it and there's a sparkly pair of earrings inside? Then you put them in your ears and they don't irritate and look really beautiful in?

That's this book. I didn't think much of it when I signed up to read it on The Pigeonhole. By stave 1 I was pleasantly surprised and hooked right away. By the end I knew I had discovered a gem.

The premise is simple - man goes into a cafe and shoots the owner then takes h
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A usual busy morning in a café and suddenly it all changed. Entered a gunman and 2 shots were fired. Everyone ran helter-skelter, only 3 remained along with one dead and 1 lost and 1 crazed. But there were secrets linking them. Then came the hostage negotiator and slowly the story unfurled.

My first book by author Charity Norman, I was awed in the way the story was foretold. There was something so poignant about their lives that each one of them touched my heart. Their courage, their sadness, the
It is true that you never really know another person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. After spending several hours in a small London café with the characters in this book, I have come to know them. And love them.

This is one of those novels that I'm sure I'll think about for years to come. Though it is only January, I'm also certain it will make my end of 2021 Top Reads list.

Superb characterization and deep human understanding make this novel stand heads above the rest.  The author's ow
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: op-mijn-e-reader
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous! I didn't want to read this (which is all you need to know about advertising and reviews) but it was a book club choice. I was planning on cracking on with another, one that wasn't chosen but which I fancied, but thought I'd just give this a chance. Two sittings. I've read some criticism regarding the sympathy of characters that have no real reason to sympathise, other than they were like real human beings. There are possibly a few too many characters at the beginning but they all have ...more
Veronika Jordan
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a hard book to review. It made me cry - buckets at times. It made me mad - how could 'that' have been allowed to happen? It made me sad many times for the wonderful, beautiful, real characters that Charity Norman has created. I loved every minute of this book. I've lived with the people in it for 10 days via Pigeonhole staves and it will be a long time before I can get it out of my head. Though long term I hope it says with me - just not quite so emotionally as now. I can't really s ...more
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Charity was born in Uganda, brought up in draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham, met her future husband under a lorry in the Sahara and was a barrister in York Chambers, until - realising that her three children had barely met her - she moved with her family to New Zealand and began to write.

After the Fall/Second Chances was a Richard & Judy and World Book Night title. The New Woman/ The

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