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.
I couldn’t wait to pick this one up because I liked Lapena’s debut, The Couple Next Door, so much and I was totally ready for another thriller. I bought it as soon as it came out, which is the first time that’s happened in a good while. For some reason, I find Lapena’s writing style to be quite captivating.
A Stranger in the House has a slightly different tone than The Couple Next Door. This is mostly because Lapena makes use of the various narrators a lot more. Because the narrative jumps around from character to character so much, the reader is kept in the dark until the author wants them to know something. This was an interesting way of dealing with the mystery, and it worked well enough. It’s not my favourite style of writing, but in this case I didn’t mind it and it kept me intrigued.
That said, this book wasn’t as intense as The Couple Next Door, possibly because of the way the story was told. I was just as invested in the mystery, but I think it focussed on a few too many characters for my liking. I did like reading the detective’s chapters, though. It added an interesting element as I got to read about both sides of the investigation.
I think Lapena was going with a Gone Girl vibe here, and it didn’t really work. Not as well as I would have liked, anyway. I liked the female characters individually as they were interesting and had good backstories, but at the same time I hated their relationship with each other. It wasn’t portrayed very well at all. There was a lot of jealousy there, amongst other things (I’m avoiding spoilers! Gah!), and I didn’t like it all that much.
A Stranger in the House is a good thriller, and I would recommend reading it if you’re looking for something to get sucked into. I would start with The Couple Next Door, though, if you’re looking to read something by Shari Lapena. It’s a much stronger novel.