REVIEW: The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale

In brief: Charlie discovers that her husband is on a dating app. She’s devastated but determined to find out more. But really, that’s the least of her worries as her life becomes amazingly complex…

The good: An incredible page turner.

The not-so-good: The ending is a little neat, but after that roller coaster ride, anything would seem tame.

Why I chose it: I don’t read enough domestic thrillers. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the copy.

Year: 2019

Pages: 325 (ARC)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Setting: London England

Rating: 9 out of 10

I quite enjoy reading domestic/psychological thrillers for their twists and turns but I just never seem to get to them these days! So when The Strangers We Know arrived, I took the advice to dive into a good book with a drink on a hot day. Forget about the drink, I was much more invested in the story! The Strangers We Know is the kind of thriller that twists and turns with blind corners and illusions everywhere. I thought it was a great read and I blitzed through it to see what would happen to poor Charlie next.

Charlie is our heroine and she tells the story in the first person. She’s a struggling actress with a job in a vintage clothing boutique. Apart from that, her life is pretty good with husband Oliver. He has a high-flying job that takes him to many far-flung places around the world, which means he’s away a lot and he’s rather obsessed with security (a problem for an actress on social media) but apart from that, life is good. Until Charlie swears that she saw Oliver on a dating app one girls’ night out. What’s worse is that the picture is one she took – on their honeymoon. Charlie can’t get it out of her mind, so she joins the app under a pseudonym to find Oliver and to start chatting. Pretty devastating, right? But that’s only the start of the unravelling of Charlie’s life. A cheating husband is positively tame to what happens next. Lucky Charlie has watched a lot of true crime documentaries because she will need every memory to make it through the week…

An unpredictable thriller is a fantastic read and Pip Drysdale has nailed the genre in The Strangers We Know. It’s larger than life with some incredible coincidences and lucky finds, but this is fiction and this is what makes it enjoyable. I did like that Charlie wasn’t a superhuman Lara Croft type, just an ordinary person who remembers far too much from TV. It was also nice to have a thriller that didn’t involve guns blazing and pages of violence, but wit and quick thinking. I also didn’t have any idea of the culprit, which was an excellent surprise and when it was revealed, I thought their methods were cleverly sneaky.

Having the story told in the first person made The Strangers We Know stand out for me. Charlie telling the story with the benefit of hindsight (right down to the part where she tells the reader to remember certain people or events) was unique and made it much more personal. We got an insight into what she was doing and why (plus the hindsight of why it was/wasn’t a great idea). I really cared for Charlie as a character and wanted her to make it through her nightmare. Supporting characters Tess (Charlie’s best friend) and Justin (Oliver’s colleague) were both intriguing and disgustingly oily respectively. I reckon Tess might have a story of her own to tell, other than that of her friend Charlie…

Overall, you can’t beat The Strangers We Know for a hot summer day’s read. Just keep an eye on your fluid levels while you race around London with Charlie.

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