Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words
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Ryan Bracha started out in film, writing and directing his first feature. He wrote the follow up whilst living in Paris. More recently, Ryan turned to novels and Strangers… is his debut, three years in the making. He lives in Yorkshire with his wife and a guinea pig.
Bodies are being found in Sheffield, England. The victims seem entirely unconnected except for the cause of death and their lack of clothes. The media are frantic, the population worried. But it’s really a deadly game of cat and mouse with terminal consequences for the losers.
Strangers… is not your typical thriller by any stretch of the imagination. It’s unlike any other book of its type I’ve read. The general premise of a group of desperate people selected by a calculating, underhand process to play a game whilst the dubious wealthy place bets is in itself unusual. However, what really sets Strangers… apart is the method by which the author portrays the action - via a multitude of characters. A highly unusual approach to storytelling that works very well.
The cast in the novel is large, from the game players to the manipulators, gamblers, by-standers and reporters to name a few. All of the players are damaged in their own way, all make decisions for personal gain.
As well as the perspective switch. there’s also a use of time to unfold the story elements in an intelligent fashion, adding tension and intrigue. However what really underlies Strangers… is a story of relationships. Two of the more main characters, Tom and Ada, find each other in the most difficult of circumstances. Just when I thought the story had been satisfactorily wrapped up Bracha opens an entirely new, but related episode to ensure everyone gets their just desserts.
The characters are well drawn, despite there being so many, and the multiple switches handled smoothly. The dialogue is sharp and gritty with the local accents and behaviours coming through strongly for colour. The location, Sheffield, is tack sharp in its definition. The writing style is in your face and uncompromising. An example of the ‘milder’ writing:
The mumbled hush of the room continued. Little Miss Impatient was pacing, her nicotine addiction grabbing her by the throat and not letting go, until a crackle then a hiss broke the suspense.
Overall a great read and entirely different.
Adult language and content throughout.
Some, but nothing that cannot be resolved.
Rating: ***** Five Stars