Book Review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Book Reviews copy

A Stranger in the House 1

Goodreads Synopsis: Why would you run scared from a happy home?

You’re waiting for your beloved husband to get home from work. You’re making dinner, looking forward to hearing about his day.

That’s the last thing you remember.

You wake up in hospital, with no idea how you got there. They tell you that you were in an accident; you lost control of your car whilst driving in a dangerous part of town.

The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. Your best friend isn’t so sure. And even you don’t know what to believe . . .

Author: Shari Lapena

Title: A Stranger in the House

Publisher: Bantam Press

Date: 2017

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I enjoyed The Couple Next Door and was looking forward to Shari Lapena’s second novel, A Stranger in the House.

Perhaps it is because I have been reading a lot of thrillers lately, but this one didn’t, well, thrill me. As soon as one character was introduced, I guessed her true connection to the couple despite that not being revealed until later on. I also figured out who the stalker was from one line.

But even if you didn’t guess, the reader isn’t left in the dark for long. The characters themselves reveal the secrets, the mysteries, from early on in the book. Although you don’t know who the killer was, I had pretty much figured out everything else.

Except…

Here’s the catch. I guessed it all. I knew the characters’ motivations and who was really doing what.

Until the last two pages. And then everything changed – and I did not see it coming.

The banter is an attempt to keep at bay the fear she’s felt ever since she became aware that she’d been in an accident – an accident that she can’t remember anything about.

It’s left me very confused how I feel about this book. For the most part, it was predictable and I wasn’t truly engaged. But to be caught out like that… It certainly helps it score more points!

So, onto other aspects apart from the plot. Let’s start with the characters. Tom Krupp was a waste of space for the entire book and I don’t know why he was such an attraction. Must be good-looking! He pretty much fell to pieces as soon as his perfect life started to unravel and in my opinion, never did anything to redeem that.

Karen is clearly a woman with a past, one that is revealed as the book goes on. To start with, I thought she was quite flimsy, but her character develops into one with a backbone – about the only one in the book.

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Brigid was creepy from the beginning, if I’m honest. Who sits at their window and just gazes across at their neighbours the entire time?

I did like the detectives involved in the case though. They knew when to follow their guts and when to read between the lines of what a lawyer was trying to say. They were never made to seem like the bad guys to the reader (even if the characters thought so).

The split narration between all the characters made it hard to know what I wanted to happen. I didn’t want Karen to go to jail. I didn’t want Brigid to win, even if I didn’t think she was guilty. And I wanted the cops to solve the crime. A collision of desires there!

The pacing is steady, but on the slow side throughout. As mentioned, the “big reveals” aren’t that big and any thriller-fan will guess them because it’s the same reveals as in every other thriller. The book is also an easy read and you could probably sit and read it in an afternoon if you wanted.

If you don’t mind guessing most of the twists, this is still an enjoyable read and the ending will catch you out.

Amazon | Waterstones

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