STRANGERS by Ursula Archer


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An extreme case of he says/she says drives this psychological thriller.

Imagine you’re Joanna Berrigan, drying your hair one evening at home, when a total stranger lets himself into your house with a key and insists he’s your fiance. He won’t leave even when you throw a paperweight at him, and you spend a night locked in the pantry to protect yourself. Then imagine you’re Erik Thieben, coming home from a tiring day at a company near Munich and discovering that the woman you love denies all knowledge of you. But for Joanna and Erik, it’s not imagination. Joanna can remember her best friend, whom she met through Erik, and she can remember her former fiance, whom her overbearing father, the third-richest man in Australia, picked out for her to marry. But she doesn’t remember anything about how she met Erik, let alone how they fell in love. After a few attempts to escape from Erik, Joanna agrees to see a neurologist, who suggests the cause might be systematic amnesia: Joanna could be protecting herself from a trauma too terrible to recall. But was Erik the cause of the trauma? If so, why does she feel compelled to harm herself instead? And why does the name Ben keep coming up in her faulty memory? Erik wonders why Joanna keeps drawing close to him even though she claims to be frightened of him and has erased every trace of him from her memory and their house. Through alternating narratives, each of the lovers weighs every word of the other, just as the reader, like Joanna and Erik, must scrutinize every clue about who’s telling the truth and is pulled along with them into an ever expanding nightmare.

Archer (Five, 2014) and Strobel’s debut as a team keeps building suspense until you’re frantically counting the pages until the end, because you know that only when you reach it will you get the answers you crave as much as the bewildered leads do.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-11306-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2017


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