3.5 star

Review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

This is probably the second-last Shari Lapena thriller that I have to catch up on! She, of course, unsurprisingly by now, always has a great talent for fast-paced thrillers—I literally read this in a day. I believe I have actually read it once before, but despite that I still enjoyed re-reading it, although I kind of knew how it would end.

A Stranger in the House revolves mainly around a couple who lives in a nice neighbourhood and are newly married. But one day the wife drives like a bat out of hell in a dark part of town and gets into a serious accident. Why can’t she remember anything? Her paranoia also gets the best of her as she realizes someone has probably been in her house. This is a story of paranoia and the tale of a perfectly normal-looking couple falling apart at the seams. Will she recover her memories in time to see the truth?

There aren’t too many characters in the book. Really just the main couple, their neighbours and police and detectives. In that sense it’s really easy to follow, and the suspense is good as their relationships get complicated. However, while the suspense was good, the predictability is also more severely limited when you have less moving parts. It was kind of easy to guess what would happen. I will admit I was also thrown off by a couple of red herrings that were thrown in there, but they didn’t too much to completely throw me off, just by the sheer number of possibilities that remained.

The plot was fairly decent. It moved incredibly fast (caveat that it was my second time) but I am really enjoying this kind of reading recently. Her usual blunt writing style with short emphatic sentences weren’t as present here, but I actually quite liked that. It felt more like a regular narrative-style that I am more used to seeing in these thrillers. I think despite the predictability of where the ending was headed, I really enjoyed the journey and felt that overall it was well-written.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading through her last one to see what I feel about Lapena overall. Just have to wait for my hold in the library to come through. In general so far, I really like that I can just pick one up and blitz through it, and get a little bit of that excitement that one gets from reading a thriller. If you’d like to hear about my thoughts on Shari Lapena in a separate post after I finish reading, let me know! Otherwise I’ll just sneak a little bit in when I read her last thriller. If you’re into quick reads (thrillers/mysteries), then this is one for you!

Overall Recommendations

A Stranger in the House is a story of a new suburban couple that quickly find out they don’t know enough about each other. After a strange accident and a bout of amnesia, just what is happening in their lives? And is someone sneaking through their house behind their backs? Join this suspense-filled adventure, told in a classical narrative style with more information being slowly revealed. If you enjoy the fast-paced suspense, and don’t mind endings not being the most sophisticated, then this is the one for you!

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