Netflix, the undisputed kings of binge-able TV, gave viewers a brand new show to obsess over at the start of 2020 with the release of eight-part series The Stranger.
The psychological thriller tells the story of Adam Price (Richard Armitage) whose orderly family life is thrown into disarray when an unknown woman (Hannah John-Kamen) tells him a secret about his wife and children.
We don’t know who she is, what she wants, or how she knows what she knows. And the further Adam takes the path The Stranger has set him on, the darker things get.
Adapted from Harlan Coben’s 2015 novel of the same name, the Netflix series makes a few key changes to bring the book to the screen. Here’s what you need to know.
A strange woman comes along to whisper in Adam's ear, and his world collapses. Picture: Netflix
In the book, The Stranger is ultimately revealed to be a man named Chris Taylor.
Having been traumatised by the revelation that the man who raised him was not actually his biological father, Chris devoted himself to exposing the secrets of others and punishing them for their deception.
Using the data he acquired while working for a company that helps women fake pregnancies, he bands together with a group of other people who possess similar stores of personal data, and they begin finding targets to blackmail.
While the others are in it for the money, Chris sees himself as an instrument of justice.
In the Netflix show, however, the stranger is actually a woman. The change was suggested by the novel’s author, who expressed his dislike for adaptations that are exact re-treads of the source material.
Ultimately, he claimed that the decision to gender-swap the character was made due to the sheer, overwhelming power of actress Hannah John-Kamen’s audition.
Unsurprisingly given that it was written by an American writer, the novel takes place in the States.
It covers a huge amount of ground, too – hopping from New Jersey to Ohio and Pennsylvania.
By moving the action to Manchester, the series shrinks the whole geography of the story to make it more easily manageable.
The switch from the US to UK also leads to a few other noticeable changes – there are far fewer guns present in the Netflix version thanks to how much harder they are to come by in the UK, while a lacrosse club in the book is swapped out for a football ground.
Griffin is given a partner to help lighten things up a little. Picture: Netflix
Adding new characters and removing old ones
DC Wesley Ross – the policeman played by Kadiff Kirwan, who works the case alongside DC Johanna Griffin – was created specifically for the show and does not appear in the book at all.
He was introduced to give Griffin someone to banter with, offering a little comic relief to an otherwise dark and mysterious series. In the book, she works with a rookie named Norbert Prendergast
Similarly, Adam’s estranged father Ed Price doesn’t exist in the book – he died of a heart attack when Adam was a teenager. This becomes important when we eventually find out that Ed is also Chris’s biological father. In the novel, his identity is never revealed.
On the flip-side, some characters from the book were axed on the story’s way to the screen.
In the novel, Chris teams up with four others to execute his karmic schemes – Eduardo, Merton, Ingrid and Gabrielle.
However, his Netflix counterpart works with her partner, Ingrid, who does sometimes use the name Gabrielle as an alias. The two are a couple trying to scam together the money to buy a beach bar in Hawaii.
Corrupt ex-policeman John Kuntz does make it into the Netflix version but, perhaps unsurprisingly, they saw fit to change his surname to “Katz”.
Katz really does have a sick child
John Kuntz/Katz’s sick child becomes a major plot point in both versions, although the specifics are a little different.
In the novel, one of his three sons has bone cancer and Katz is forced to become a criminal to pay the hospital bills.
However, in the TV show, he has just one child – a daughter named Olivia. While she is initially believed to be sick, it actually turns out that her mother has been poisoning her.
In both versions of the story, Adam ultimately ends up trailing Tripp to the place where his wife, Corrine has been buried and shooting him dead. However, how things pan out from there varies a little.
The Netflix version ends with Griffin helping Adam to frame Katz for the murder of Tripp and Corrine to prevent him from going to prison.
No-one else finds out the true identity of the killer and Bob, who was in on the scheme to frame Corrine, gets away clean.
In the book, Adam admits to killing Tripp but claims it was self-defence.
Griffin helps him falsify DNA evidence to back his claim and also supports his assertion that Tripp confessed to killing Corrine.
Adam is cleared of any wrongdoing, while Tripp’s family receives a huge insurance payout.
The book then seems to close things off with the stranger vanishing afterwards, while the TV series has Chris re-appear at a football match attended by Adam and their father – potentially suggesting that there will be a second season to come.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, The i.