Review: Strangers – C.L. Taylor


CL Taylor


Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN: 9780008222468



Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.


Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.


Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.


And Alice is being stalked.


None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.


Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.


The million-copy bestseller returns with a gripping new novel that will keep you guessing until the end.



My View:

With multiple story lines, I love how all the different characters and their worlds collide in one tense standoff. This is a mystery that will keep you guessing whilst simultaneously reminding you that what you “see” on the outside often does not reflect the inner,  the real person – their turmoils and challenges.

This quietly written book is disturbing, a great character driven mystery.



Post Script: The Hidden Hours – Sara Foster

The Hidden Hours

The Hidden Hours

Sara Foster

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925184815



Keeping her secret may save her family.

But telling it may save her life.

Arabella Lane, senior executive at a children’s publisher, is found dead in the Thames on a frosty winter’s morning after the office Christmas party. No one is sure whether she jumped or was pushed. The one person who may know the truth is the newest employee at Parker & Lane – the office temp, Eleanor.

Eleanor has travelled to London to escape the repercussions of her traumatic childhood in outback Australia, but now tragedy seems to follow her wherever she goes. To her horror, she has no memory of the crucial hours leading up to Arabella’s death – memory that will either incriminate or absolve her.

As Eleanor desperately tries to remember her missing hours and uncover the events of that fateful night, her own extended family is dragged further into the dark, terrifying terrain of blame, suspicion and guilt.

Caught in a crossfire of accusations, Eleanor fears she can’t even trust herself, let alone the people around her. And soon, she’ll find herself in a race against time to find out just what happened that night – and discover just how deadly some secrets can be.



My View:

It took me a little time to warm to the protagonist – the death of Arabella Lane in the UK presents a story line that is not particularly   warm or sympathetic; Arabella’s character is manipulative and Eleanor appears stunted by fear, is lonely, low in confidence and has a mysterious past that we want to unravel. The second narrative, of Eleanor’s childhood, reaches out to your heartstrings, you can feel the loneliness, the frisson of fear and anticipation of the revealing of unspeakable events causing static as you turn the pages.  In the telling of the two histories Eleanor becomes whole; empathetic and intriguing.


For this is a story of intrigue – so much is not what it seems. Sara Foster cleverly leads us on tour of discovery complete with dead ends, false starts, false leads and so much anticipation. Several times I thought I knew where/how this mystery would resolve…and I was wrong each time. This is very cleverly plotted and paced mystery. Trust no one.


Read right to the very end, read the afterword and learn a little about Sara Foster, about loneliness and despair…and books. “My favourite writers could read my mind before I could find my voice. They could answer my questions without me having to utter them. They pulled me through then, and they still do now. I believe there is at least one book out there that will do this for everyone. Probably many. If you ever need them, I urge you to search them out and bring yourself back to the world. Seek out your books, not the ones you are told to read. Find your truth. Do your soul work. And while you do it, keep faith in a brighter day tomorrow.” (Sara Foster, Afterword)


A great read. Thank you Sara Foster.




Post Script: You’re Just Too Good To Be True – Sofija Stefanovic

You're Just Too Good To Be True

You’re Just Too Good To Be True

Sofija Stefanovic

Penguin Specials

ISBN: 9780143572121



Sofija Stefanovic visits her eighty-year-old friend Bill and suspects he’s being scammed over the internet – not for the first time. Compelled by Bill’s devastating stories of online dating, heartbreak and bankruptcy, Sofija gets drawn into the underworld of romance scams. Her investigations take her to victims, experts and ultimately to her computer, where she uses a dead relative’s photo to set up her own senior’s dating profile. In the hope of interviewing a scammer, Sofija wades into murky territory as her lies grow and her online relationships get personal. As she moves through this confusing world, Sofija finds herself confronted by questions about loneliness, love and greed.


You’re Just Too Good To Be True is a sometimes very funny and sometimes desperately poignant investigation into the dark underside of love in the digital age.


So well done. Bill’s story is an amplification of the madness and delusion we’ve all gone through chasing love.’ John Safran


My View:

What an interesting quick poignant read. And the truly sad part is – this is not a fictionalised account, this is not a hypothetical situation, this scenario is real and is real to many many many lonely people whose only crime is wanting to be loved.


This account is so familiar – in my case – not the romance scam but the money scam. Who hasn’t had the email or the letter regarding money held in trust? So much money. A few years ago my father (now deceased) excitedly showed me a letter he had received from an overseas solicitor claiming they had millions of dollars in trust waiting for him…all he had to do was give them some personal details…. He was excited, he was hopeful, yet at the same time I knew he thought this was a scam…he just didn’t want to believe it. I looked at the letter, rolled my eyes, and said something like “Really?”   That was enough said- he knew it was a scam, just like I did, discounting it out loud made it obvious, disappointing but obvious. (If it seems too good to be true it usually is – isn’t that the saying?)  Thankfully the scam came in letter form – so was easy to bin and no personal interaction had occurred to draw him in to the web of deceit. When “Microsoft” called him about his computer problem – he was easily duped.  They talked him through the process of putting a Trojan onto his computer (or something like that – that stole his identity, his passwords etc.) He lost all the money in his bank accounts – which although wasn’t a princely sum was irreplaceable. Worse than the theft of the cash from his accounts was the emotional damage of being vulnerable, gullible, of being duped, of being conned.


I recognise these feelings in Bill’s story – no one wants to be seen as gullible, no one wants to admit to being duped, to admit that they misjudged another….and maybe for some the drama of participating in this game is exciting regardless of the outcome?


How can a scammer do this to someone – leave them with nothing? Break someone’s heart? Leave someone emotionally bankrupt? Steal a lifestyle? Apply pressure till suicide is the only way out?   The distance between computer connections seems to take the “personal” out of these crimes. This novella airs important social (and criminal) issues and discusses these problems in rational terms, in an easy to read format – there are lessons here for everyone not just the mature of years. This book struck a chord with me.