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Virtual Strangers (Love and murder in cyberspace) [Kindle Edition]

Ola Zaltin , Susanne O'Leary
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Did you ever want to cast off, to sail into the sunset with someone you just met, a kindred spirit, a twin soul, leaving everything behind? It is possible in the virtual social world of the Internet, which can become a comfort zone you’ll never want to leave. You might, one day, want to meet that person with whom you have become strangely intimate. But reality is never as lovely as the dream. Be careful what you wish for…

A man and a woman - Seabee and Annika - hook up on a wannabe authors' site where they flirt, banter and play around. Just like you and me and everyone else these days. Don’t we all spend part of our day on the Internet? On a forum, a blog, Twitter or Face Book. It’s all innocent fun, isn’t it? But for Annika and Seabee it became a chilly reality. After having joked around openly about killing off their significant others, both their partners actually do die in what seems to be unrelated freak accidents – or are they? The dark realisation begins to dawn on the uneasy duo that their murderous joke fantasy has become all too dangerously real and that the deaths were no random accidents. Someone is watching them.

Seabee and Annika find out in a hurry that cyberspace makes strange bedfellows and, if it's not he or she who did it, then who has done the killings? The two team up to find out who has hijacked their fantasy and turned it into a frightening nightmare.

Join the endearingly mismatched would-be detective duo Annika and Seabee as they investigate the deadly mystery of how the seemingly innocent cybernetic world of two virtual strangers was hi-jacked and transformed by an unknown faceless killer into real-life hell, where “homicide” isn’t just a word highlighted harmlessly on a computer screen.

With more than a passing nod at the classic ‘Strangers on a Train’, Virtual Strangers is a darkly humorous, romantically witty-edged adventure that will take you into the deep, dark and sometimes deadly uncharted wilderness which lurks beyond the fringes of the strange and unpredictable netherworld that we casually call…CYBERSPACE.

Don’t read it if you don’t want to be jolted out of your comfort zone. Keep the lights on, change your password, use a pseudonym and never, ever give out personal information on the Internet…

Contains strong language

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Product Details

  • File Size: 519 KB
  • Print Length: 239 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004PYDIFG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,558 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtual Perfection March 19, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Internet forums gone wrong... That is the best way I can describe this fast-paced story by authors O'Leary and Zaltin.

Is anyone like whom they seem to be online? Who can you trust? Who should you fear?
A world where nothing is private and everything can be used against you.

I was immediately drawn into the story in the first chapter and the story held my attention until the final, surprising ending. Most chapters are split into the two viewpoints of the main characters. Reading each of their "take" on the situation at hand gave the story much more depth than what I was expecting.

A fresh, modern take on the movie "Strangers on a Train". I look forward to more collaborations between these two authors.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and worst of both worlds March 1, 2011
By BigAl
Format:Kindle Edition
"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?

This review is based on a pre-release copy obtained for free from the author.

**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog.**
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By Bizgen
Format:Kindle Edition
I love Scandinavian writing, it is usually deep, dark and compelling.

I downloaded this book after the author mentioned on a Discussion Group thread that her co-writer had written some of the Wallander episodes for TV. This Henning Mankell TV series is one of my favourites, especially the Swedish version. As a writer, Mankell is amongst the best. Maybe I expected too much.

The idea behind the book could have been fascinating. Many of us contribute to online threads, and the Discussion Groups on Amazon are very addictive. The story is written from two viewpoints, that of Annika and Seabee. Annika lives in Paris married to a Frenchman severely injured in an accident a couple of years ago. She does not show much sympathy for his plight, and he is undeniably difficult to live with. Seabee lives with Lies, a sexually demanding dominatrix-like woman, (apparently we should feel sorry for him because she does not cuddle him), and is tired of his relationship but doesn't want to be the first to move out of the apartment they share. But when Lies has one of his non-housetrained dogs put down when it defecates in her designer shoes, it is the last straw. Both Annika and Seabee are writers and they meet through an internet site and they joke about getting their partners killed as in 'Strangers on a Train'.

It starts well, but as the book proceeds, the characters really don't develop. Practically every waking thought of Seabee is associated with sex - if he had been a pubescent teenager it might have been believable, if rather boring. But we are supposed to think that he is an intelligent man, a writer and translator, Alpha male, maybe, but surely he should have a few other thoughts in his mind as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could this happen to you? June 6, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This highly entertaining story is about a group of people who meet via an on-line discussion forum much like the forums at Amazon. I might not have found this story plausible had I not seen/read the nefarious antics on the discussions boards I have frequented.

The writing is fluid and tight, the characters interesting. I recommend Virtual Strangers to anyone who likes suspense/murder mysteries.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Increasingly implausible July 26, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really liked the first half of this book - Annika, living in France, is drawn into an online community for authors. Since she spends her days working and her nights caring for her obnoxious invalid husband, she's especially vulnerable to the attention and validation she receives on the website. She spends more and more time there and eventually forms a bond with Seebee, a charming, if sex-crazed, drunk. He's living in England and he has relationship problems of his own. The update of "Strangers on a Train" for the internet age was interesting and both characters were well-crafted, especially Annika. She kept making worse and worse decisions, but her personality and past made it all make sense.

Unfortunately, as the book progressed, it became more and more implausible. At this point, I will be discussing some specific details from the second half of the book. They aren't really spoilers, but you may not want to read if you're sensitive to things like that. It didn't ring true at all that all the main players from the web site - some of them middle-class Americans - were able to travel to England at the drop of a hat. Have the authors checked plane ticket prices recently? I understand it is a mystery classic to gather all the main players in one place (and what better place than an isolated English country house?), but if you choose a specific set-up for your novel, you can't just abandon it for the dénouement from an entirely different book.

I agree with another reviewer that the identity of the actual villain was telegraphed explicitly - this removed some of the pleasure from the book. I was also really taken aback by the way Sebastian, a gay character, was portrayed - it just seemed kind of hateful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very 21st Century. A really good read.
I just finished "Virtual Strangers" and I must say, I really liked it. It was very 21st century, with the two main characters meeting online, via a website for hopeful... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ray Riddle
5.0 out of 5 stars Country House Capers
This was a really entertaining read. I'm not sure which genre it slots into but this is certainly not a negative. Read more
Published 10 months ago by J.R.W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtual Strangers
I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Virtual Strangers and the sequel Virtual Suspects; I am absolutely delighted that I took the time to read these consecutively. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
As I first started reading this I wasn't so sure, but in no time I really got into it. I wish everythign I read grabbed my attention like this book did.
Published on June 15, 2012 by June A Bendrim-Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars If Agatha were here today ...
It's not often that I give a book 5 stars but this one pushed all the right buttons for me. Maybe because I've been on those sites for would be writers, although I've never had any... Read more
Published on May 31, 2012 by eBook Lover
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Start - Lousy Finish
I agree with the one and two star reviewers. The start of the book is lively, fun, different with some interesting supporting characters. Read more
Published on May 26, 2012 by GG
5.0 out of 5 stars It's got it all...
Virtual Strangers (Love and murder in cyberspace)

This book has it all. Humour, suspense, romance, erotic adventures, Cyberspace, interesting characters, not too many,... Read more
Published on May 23, 2012 by Ullrich Fischer
4.0 out of 5 stars Virtual Strangers
An interesting book from page one & although I thought the killer was obvious I found it interesting to how it was to eventually end................ Read more
Published on March 14, 2012 by ROSSC
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive! (caution-spoilers)
I really enjoyed this one! I felt like the pacing was 'off', especially through the beginning, but it could have been that I was really busy and didn't have time to give it the... Read more
Published on November 2, 2011 by sarajane82
4.0 out of 5 stars Too True For Comfort
As someone who watched, vastly entertained, the shenanigans on the A*******y Forums a year or so ago, I'm so pleased I stood on the sidelines and didn't get involved. Read more
Published on October 27, 2011 by E J Miller
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