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Strangers    by Ursula Archer & Arno Strobel order for
by Ursula Archer
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ursula Archer, author of the brilliant, twisty psychological thriller Five, now teams up with Arno Strobel to give us a mystifying read in Strangers. The story is set in Germany where Joanna Berrigan (whose mother is German and whose dad is a controlling Aussie billionaire) works as a photographer. One day she's home alone when a man comes in the door (he has a key). Erik Thieben claims that he lives there and is her fiancé.

The story alternates between Joanna's and Erik's point of view. To her, he's a total stranger - is this some scam because of her family's wealth? He is devastated to find that his beloved fiancée has forgotten their time together, and all his things have disappeared from their home. When he left that morning, they were all there. Erik pushes Joanna to seek psychiatric help, while trying to protect her from involuntary institutionalization. Her status as a foreigner with a temporary residence permit won't help.

As this develops, readers learn of odd occurrences at Erik's work - a big new project, Phoenix, that he'd normally be involved in, but he only found out about it by chance. We wonder what on earth is going on, and soon violence enters this young couple's lives. There's a boiler accident that nearly kills them both; a knife attack that pulls them apart; a bombing that almost kills Erik; and murders of people he knows. Which is when they realize that if they don't start trusting each other, their chances of survival are low.

Tension builds to an action-packed finale that nearly does kill both Erik and Joanna. Don't miss this thrilling, engrossing read, whose premise is based on current socio-political developments in Europe today.

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