E.V. Adamson | Five Strangers

five strangers ev adamson

The Book: 

Five Strangers by E.V. Adamson
Published October 19, 2021 by Scarlet
Date read: September 24, 2021

The Characters: 

Jen
Her best friend Bex

Dan, who murdered his girlfriend Vicky
The other witnesses: Jamie, Julia, Ayesha

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon


The Plot (from Goodreads):

With its grassy hills and breathtaking city views, London’s Hampstead Heath is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends and loved ones—and on an unseasonably warm Valentine’s Day, the lawns are especially full. So when an aggressive lovers’ quarrel breaks out, there’s an audience of park goers nearby to hear the shouts traded back and forth, and to watch as the violence escalates suddenly to murder, then suicide. 

For the five strangers who observed the gruesome act, the memory of the gore is unshakable. But one of them—disgraced journalist Jen Hunter—is compelled to question the truth of what she thought she saw. Are the facts of the case plain as day, or were they obscured, in the moment, by the glaring sunlight?

As she mounts an obsessive investigation for a seemingly-impossible alternative, the lives of the other witnesses begin to unravel, each in its own particular way. Soon one thing becomes clear: the crime they witnessed was more terrible, more twisted, and more far-reaching than they ever could have imagined.

Click here for book spoilers for <em>Five Strangers</em>
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Five Strangers, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist: 

Bex orchestrated everything to get Jen to murder Laurence. When she was a child, her father was abusive and frequently accused her mother of cheating on him. One day Bex overheard her parents talking about how her mother had wanted an abortion, so as payback she left a fake love note from the neighbor to her mother where her father would find it. Her mother killed her father and then herself by slitting their throats while Bex watched. Ever since, she’s been murdering people or convincing other people to do it for her.

Bex was obsessed with Jen and with Jen needing her, and had forced Jen’s proximity to her ever since college. She went so far as to kill Jen’s cat to prevent her from moving to Switzerland.

Bex had hooked up with Laurence before he began dating Jen, and was miffed that he chose Jen over her. Bex dated Daniel when he was a teen. She introduced Laurence to Vicky, knowing she’d cheat with him. She convinced Daniel to kill Vicky and then himself the same way her parents had died, and orchestrated Jen being there because she wanted to be the one to comfort Jen after the trauma. Finally, she convinced Jen that Laurence was stalking and threatening her and told Jen that Laurence had raped her.

Jen figured out the truth with her friend Penelope’s help.

The Ending:

Bex thinks she has convinced Jen to murder Laurence, but Jen is on to her thanks to some digging that her friend Penelope did. Jen tries to murder Bex instead. Julia shows up and finishes the job–turns out Bex had also murdered her son Harry while they were traveling together. Jen and Julia aren’t suspected of their involvement in Bex’s murder.

The Review: 

Thank you to Scarlet Suspense for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of Five Strangers was so intriguing! I was definitely hooked from the first few chapters, where we read in gruesome detail about Daniel’s murder of his girlfriend Vicky and then himself. And then I realized this was an obsession thriller, and I was even more into it!

I enjoyed the characters and how we steadily learned more about them as Jen began her investigation. Jen seemed like a little bit of a basket case and some of her decisions were questionable, but I warmed to her as the story progressed. I thought Bex’s character was very well written, and every character’s secrets were revealed at the perfect pace.

The ending/twist certainly required some suspension of belief, but there’s not much I can say without spoilers. Overall, this book is very well-paced and well written. It’s certainly one to add to your list for spooky season!

Spoiler Review:
I could tell from very early on that Bex was the perpetrator, but I think it was intended that the reader figure it out. I loved learning her backstory, and wish we got more about the years between her parents’ death and present day. What I didn’t find realistic was the fact that she was able to convince Dan to kill Vicky. Even Jen took way too long to catch on to her gaslighting! I also think it would be unlikely that Bex die in the same place where a murder took place just recently and no one connect that so many people were there on both occasions. Even if it wasn’t on camera, they should’ve been able to see Laurence, Jen, Julia, and Bex come and go and work out that all four of them were also there the day of the murder-suicide.

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five strangers ev adamson
five strangers ev adamson

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