Thank you so much to ReadersFirst for the free copy of this book. The Secrets of Strangers really intrigued me from the get-go with a fresh sounding premise with so many potential avenues it could twist the story down. Norman didn't disappoint! I found the story unbelievably hard to put down from the very beginning: the scene is set and every character has a very poignant role in the narrative as it begins to unfold. Thematically, some really hard-hitting subjects are touched upon and explored (suicide, mental illness, abuse of multiple kinds, homelessness, violence-related PTSD, etc.) and to my knowledge I felt these were all delved into with appropriate research and respect.
The Secrets of Strangers takes the reader on one hell of a ride and really captures the boxed-in atmosphere that begins to simmer and boil in the Tuckbox hostage situation, really distorting the typically mundane setting of a café we're all familiar with into a surreal and gritty situation. The characters were definitely what made this story shine the most and I'm almost reluctant to be leaving them! Touching at times and unapologetically teary in others, I'll definitely be looking out for more of Norman's work in the future.