Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards, 2020
Harper, Brecken, Kayla, and Josh
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The Plot (from Goodreads):
When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.
As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.
Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.
This was a very quick read, just over a day for me. I haven’t read many closed-room mysteries, but I have definitely enjoyed the few I’ve read. The blizzard setting always does it for me, though.
I kept thinking I knew who the stalker was, but I suspected almost everyone in the car at some point. The author kept the secret very well–I did guess one point of the twist, but thought it was another red herring!
I didn’t really connect with Mira in any way. She seemed immature, and I didn’t agree with many of her choices. It really isn’t a big deal to spend a night in an airport waiting for a storm to pass–I’m sure her mom would rather she get home safe in the morning than take risks on unsafe roads. Maybe if she were rushing home to catch a loved one on their deathbed, but just because her mom was lonely on Christmas Eve? I didn’t buy the rush.
Five Total Strangers requires some suspension of belief, as there were really too many coincidences for the story to seem realistic. However, I think closed-room mysteries kind of depend on coincidences, so for me this didn’t detract from the story.
Overall, this was a quick, enjoyable read.
What about you, would you have gotten in the car? I’m pretty open to traveling with like-minded people my age that I meet in hostels and things. I’ve definitely gotten in the car with strangers before. I always text a friend where I’m going and with whom, though! I don’t think I would do it during a snowstorm, though. You never know how experienced other drivers are, and it’s not that big a deal to spend a night in the airport waiting for it to clear!