Approximate word count: 85-90,000
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Born in Sweden and married to a now retired Irish diplomat, Susanne O’Leary has lived in France, Australia, and Belgium while following her husband from assignment to assignment. They’ve finally settled in Ireland with an occasional romantic holiday in France. O’Leary has six books available for your Kindle, some traditionally published initially and re-released in eBook form, and some that have gone direct to Kindle. Her most recent is A Woman’s Place, based on the true story of two of her ancestors.
Co-author Ola Zaltin is also Swedish. He studied screenwriting at the National Film School of Denmark and has written several short films, one feature film, and many scripts for episodic TV shows.
“Seabee” from England and Annika, the knockout from France, are two strangers, both in difficult relationships. They meet online at a site for wannabe authors and engage in some witty banter, a little harmless flirtation – no big deal. It’s innocent fun until one jokes that killing each other’s partner would solve all their problems. Reminiscent of the premise behind Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie Strangers on a Train, Virtual Strangers goes its own way when both partners die in what seem to be freak accidents the same weekend. When evidence indicates both were murders Seabee and Annika each deny responsibility. But, if not them, who did it?
Virtual Strangers operates in two worlds, the real world and cyberspace. The real life murder-mystery portion of the book has plenty of unique twists; many of them work because of the uniqueness of the tie-in to cyberspace. The real world portion also has the stereotypical murder mystery device of strangers (okay, Virtual Strangers) stuck together in a big house trying to solve the murder. However, this has the variation that the murder(s) didn’t happen in the house, instead they’re together specifically to solve them.
However, what sets Virtual Strangers apart is how well O’Leary and Zaltin capture the dynamic of life in cyberspace and the potential for the two worlds to collide. Anyone who spends much time online should relate. How often have you seen someone on a forum behave in ways they never would face to face? Is a friend on Facebook who lives halfway across the world the same as your friend who lives next door and does it feel different? How much is real and how much is something else? When you think you’re anonymous, are you?
I evaluated a pre-release copy before the book had gone through the editing process and am unable to evaluate this area.
Rating: ***** Five stars