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The Secrets of Strangers

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4.58  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  38 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
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 4.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  83 ratings  ·  38 reviews


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Ceecee
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ive 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 dont expect. The start is electrifying when theres 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 home, ...more
Brenda
4.5s

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 hed returned, and this time he held a shotgun in his hands. Terror reigned as shots were
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Mandy White
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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Krystal
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 want
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Pauline
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Its 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
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Nigel
What a roller coaster - extremely powerful at times too. 4.5/5. Full review nearer publication
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com

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 Normans explosive new offering is absorbing from the first
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Rachel
*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
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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!
Donna
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I loved this book, the story of human nature, personalities and how different people see situations in varying lights and shades.
Charity Norman kept this story interesting without making it long and boring. It kept me reading, had me on the edge of my seat right up until the end. I loved the ending as it really did complete the story.
The characters were all different in their take on things, their personalities and their way of life yet they all came together to help end a volatile situation.
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Kerri
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
This book really affected me, I cried, I laughed, I felt so much indignant outrage, then I cried some more.
I had so much empathy for the main character, Sam, after all he'd endured at the hands of his step-father. Perhaps having recently been subjected to 'gaslighting' I could identify more readily with Sam. The insidious way these people, 'gaslighters', go about undermining you and your beliefs, breaking you down piece by piece, isolating you from any support networks for their own evil
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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

On an ordinary weekday morning, an irate young man storms into a London cafe, raises a shotgun and fires twice at the proprietor. Staff and patrons scatter in fear, but an unlucky few find themselves trapped with the gunman.

In the hours that follow, as the police negotiator attempts to broker an end to the standoff, the remaining hostages - a nurse, a barrister, and a homeless man - form an extraordinary bond as they try to make sense of the situation they are in, and prevent an escalation of
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Susan
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Women's fiction' is a genre that often gets belittled or derided but it contains some absolute gems that offer a really good read, with strong characters and emotional depths. The Secrets of Strangers is one such book. A simple premise - five strangers end up in a single place and we learn about their lives. The place, in this case, is Tuckbox Cafe in Balham and our characters include a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, a lawyer struggling with IVF, a homeless gambling addict, a grieving ...more
Lin Perrett
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gunman storms into a busy London cafe and shoots the owner taking customers hostage. A Police Hostage Negotiator Eliza tries to talk and build a relationship with the gunman to ensure a safe conclusion. The hostages include Mutesi a nurse in the local care home originally from Rwanda, Neil a homeless man and Abi a defence barrister. As the story unfolds you here the gunman Sam open up about his troubled life. Each character has their own secret as they chat over tea and carrot cake.A very well ...more
Claire
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, allen-unwin-au, crime
4.5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Wow, this book was not what I was expecting, but it was a really great read, one that had me hooked from the start to the finish. 

The Premise, 5 strangers trapped in a cafe with a crazy gunman, this sounded a lot like a real-life siege in Sydney a few years ago. 

These strangers have nothing apparent in common, but as we slowly get to meet each of the hostages, as well as the gunman, we learn their stories and they learn about each other. They all have secrets and demons that are
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Shirley Campbell
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Brilliant book have been reading quite a few boring books lately that i haven't finished and this was a joy even though it was unbearably sad at times believable characters a wonderful read hard to put down
Phoebe Moloney
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*crying*
Marguerite
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldnt put it down

I love all of Charity Normanss books and recommend her to all my reader friends.
This one had me gripped and enthralled from the beginning.
So much humanity, love, understanding and so many engaging characters involved in the drama.
Keep writing dear Charity!
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Beverley
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that creeps up on you slowly and totally draws you into it's emotionally charged plot. Each character gradually springs to life in such a clever way as the story unfolds. Utterly heart breaking and totally believable. Loved it.
Tim
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With a big shout out I would like to thank Charity Norman and Allen and Unwin for the ARC of The Secrets of Strangers.

This is my first book by Charity Norman; See You In September is now on my reading list. This is a captivating read; it kept me awake well into the night. Set in a London cafe, a group of strangers are thrown together when they are taken hostage. There is real tension in this unique crafted writing style. With wonderful character development, it grabbed me from the first page.
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M - The long hot spell
I have given Normans The Secrets of Strangers five stars - it probably would have been a 4.5 if there were such a score. The Story takes off right at the start as you accustom yourself to the different perspectives and wonder where the story will take you and where lives will converge. Then, boom, it keeps going.

Ive been busy and Ive also been under the weather, otherwise I might have finished this in a day or two. Im pretty sure the book would have read itself! :P

My main gripe with this story
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Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Perhaps tropes are unavoidable in this genre but pathos reaches maximum overload with elderly Arthur, pregnant Paige and the hostage owners dogs left tethered outside. I wasnt buying the obligatory scenario of swat teams and Elizas negotiation unit camped nearby for dramatic tension. Replicating TV scripts and movie dialogue is different to genuine storytelling.

The bookcover reads unputdownable but I certainly had no qualms in putting it down before I drowned in saccharine. With a veneer of
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Kat
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my what a joy of a book this is and such a powerful story that actually made me cry !!
So we have five strangers in a cafe when a gunman takes them hostage and from then on we gradually learn more about these people their lives and much much more, the story is told with so much empathy and all of their lives are so different that it makes for a read that just grips you and doesnt let go. Although this is classed as thriller its so much more than that and I felt myself really caring for the
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Dragonladymoi
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was hooked from the first page of this book and I couldnt put it down. It held my interest throughout the story; no words were superfluous, it was just beautifully written. I have huge respect for Charity Norman as a writer and I will be looking for more of her books.

It began as a group of strangers whose lives intersect at a cafe that becomes the scene of a siege. As their stories unfold they are drawn to each other in companionship, the most unlikely of sorts; a refugee nurse from Rwanda
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Iwasaplatypus
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On an ordinary morning in a café in London, a gunman enters and shoots the proprietor dead.
During the ensuing kerfuffle many patrons escape but the few who dont become hostages.
Over the course of the day the story enfolds. We learn what lead the gunman to that café on that particular morning. We also get to know the hostages and the negotiator.
The Secrets of Strangers was not the straight hostage/gunman story I thought it would be. It was an exploration of people and the consequences of the
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Jason McCracken
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Womens Fiction. Absolutely, positively, not my cup of tea but, hey, A&U sent me a free copy to review so here goes

Its opens very strongly, much better than I was expecting. I absolutely bolted through the opening 100-odd pages but sadly, the further it went, the more emotionally manipulative it got. The over-exposition is pretty laughable at times as Norman pushes the narrative that a certain character is actually evil personified down your throat. The characters are all massively
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Chrissie
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book it is gripping and fast paced ,set in the Tuckbox Cafe in Balham London, strangers pop in for a coffee one morning and suddenly their lives are turned upside down when a gunman rushes in and shoots the owner of the cafe.and holds the customers hostage .The main characters are Neil a homeless man ,Abi a Lawyer and Mutesi a carehome nurse and Eliza the Hostage Negotiator .The characters are so well written that I felt I knew them, we learn each persons story and the ...more
Linda
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When five strangers, for various reasons end up in a London cafe one morning, they would never dream that they are about to be caught up in a hostage situation. Sam has come to see his step-father Robert, the owner of the cafe. After they have an angry confrontation Sam leaves and returns with a gun shooting Robert dead. While most of the customers flee a handful are left inside and this is their story. All have their own story to tell but Sams is the most interesting. Gradually he tells all to ...more
Felicity Akins
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have
I was lucky enough to be given this book by Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review. Wow! I was looking forward to reading this book as any title which has the word 'SECRETS' in it gets me hooked every time. This book did not disappoint! The chatacters were amazingly developed, the plot and twists kept me reading and, without giving too much away, the relationship between the characters was riveting, heartbreaking and left me wanting a sequel!!
sarah lerigo
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW

This is such a well written book
with a nice pace
the characters are believable
and has the story unfolds you end up emotionally attached to them all

Absolutely brilliant

Thank you netgalley, Charity Norman and Atlantic Books for allowing me to read and review this book
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Charity Norman was born in Uganda, brought up in draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham and met her future husband under a lorry in the Sahara. She spent years as 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 (2013) was a Richard & Judy and World
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