A present you can’t remember. A past that won’t let you go.
You’re home making dinner for your husband. You expect him any second. The phone rings- it’s the call you hoped you’d never get. You jump in your car and race to a neighborhood you thought you’d never visit. You peer into the dark, deserted building, and brace yourself for the worse.
After that, you remember nothing.
They tell your husband you’ve been in an accident. You lost control of your car as you sped through the roughest part of town.
The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. He thinks he knows you better than anyone else. Your best friend is not so sure. And even you don’t know what to believe…
Synopsis from hardcover book, 305 pages, copyright 2017 and published by Viking.
I was keen to read A Stranger In The House by Shari Lapena because I enjoyed her first book The Couple Next Door, which was a page-turner and had some interesting themes.
I went into the book with a little of the same expectation as Lapena’s first book and was highly disappointed with A Stranger In The House.
Having read some excellent mystery/crime fiction lately, it was hard for me not to compare it to them.
Here’s why I was disappointed.
One positive thing about the book is that the story line was interesting. It does have a basis for a good psychological thriller.
When you read the summary on the book jacket it does sound intriguing. Tom, the husband comes home to find his wife of 2 years missing. He learns that she has been in a car accident and has amnesia.
That same day, the police discover a murder in the same vicinity as the accident. Is it a coincidence? Or is there a link between the two events?
As you delve into the book more elements are introduced which makes it more intriguing. I liked that the amnesia was put in there right at the beginning to make it more suspenseful.
Lapena does succeed in making A Stranger In The House a quick read.
The chapters are short, some as only a few pages, making the easy to read. Moreover, there’s plenty of dialogue.
Told in Tom’s and Karen’s viewpoints, this element helps keep the intrigue going.
Though I liked the overall plot, where it fell down was the way it was executed. I thought it was very fluffy and didn’t have the substance of what a good psychological thriller should be.
I didn’t enjoy the writing and I felt that the writing was juvenile. There’s nothing wrong with it being juvenile but I didn’t think it reached its target audience.
Argh, I just don’t like it when the characters aren’t good. I found all the characters really weak and not at all developed. I am not sure if that was done intentionally or not. Perhaps the vagueness of the characters was suppose to heighten the suspense, who knows?
The three main characters, Tom, his wife Karen and the neighbor Brigid, are very formulaic and you don’t get to know them.
You do get more of Tom’s character but it’s not at all believable. Tom starts questioning his life with his wife and his weak character is revealed when his wife gets accused of murder.
Karen’s character was also flat. She seemed pretty boring until the end of the book. But by then it was too late.
Brigid plays the psycho neighbor and is not at all convincing either. I felt this plot device has been used too many times and when she is introduced as the stalker it is not at all surprising.
The best part of the book was literally at the end of the book on chapter 49, the last 6 pages that had the unexpected twist.
It was a clever twist and would have worked better if the characters were more believable. The shocking twist would have had more impact if that was the case.
My Final Thoughts
I was highly disappointed in A Stranger In The House.
Overall, I felt the whole book was formulaic. The plot and the characters were unoriginal.
Although I enjoyed the story line, the execution was where it fell short. I didn’t enjoy the writing and the characters were unrealistic and predictable.
If you do read this book, I would say to read it on the beach. It’s light and fluffy.