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‘Strangers We Know’ falls short of potential

“Strangers We Know” published on May 1 is my first experience of reading Elle Marr’s work and I am left with mixed feelings about the read. Sometimes you know from the start that a book is just not going to live up to its FULL potential. That being said, the potential was there and the read was enjoyable. Some of the positives included the storyline, that it was an easy-to-read page-turner and the alternating points of view.

The storyline itself was interesting, starting with Ivy Hon, a young girl who was adopted when she was only days old.

She is stricken with a mysterious sickness and in the course to find more about her lineage and about what could be ailing her, she attracts the attention of the FBI.

According to Ivy’s DNA, she’s related to the Full Moon Killer who has terrorized the Pacific Northwest for decades.

Hon then becomes the FBI’s hope to stop him from killing again and she becomes motivated to unmask him (as I’m sure many would if they got they chance to help in uncovering a real murder mystery).

She then begins a series of online searches, hoping to connect with other relatives in her “family of strangers,” and she does find her mother’s family.

Connecting with them leads her to the big question and title of the book… “What if the strangers we know carry the greater risk of breaking our hearts — betraying our expectations?” as she tries to figure out what exactly she does expect to find — a happy family who is ready to welcome her; or a family line tainted with the poisonous blood of a killer running through multiple veins?

The story itself is told from multiple points of views, a tactic I personally enjoyed, allowing the reader to unravel the story with Hon (through the lunar cycles, another touch I loved), while living through it in the past with other characters such as Sampson and Tatum.

Marr, who grew up in Sacramento, previously discussed her inspiration from the real-life Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.

She has even incorporated some of the myths surrounding cult practices in the 1980s

In my opinion though, the author threw too many ideas into the plot and tries one too many attempts at diverting the reader to false assumptions and adding suspense, which leaves the book with a handful of loose ends or causes some confusion.

Ratings-wise this sits at a 3-star for me.

Madeline Scarborough can be reached at mscarborough@newsandsentinel.com.

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