A Stranger in the House
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: July 27th, 2017
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 devoured Shari Lapena’s first novel, The Couple Next Door. While I had issues with the book, I still raced to read it and there were a lot of twists that I found shocking, which is why I was extremely intrigued to read her second novel.
Just like The Couple Next Door, this book had a premise that I was very interested in. I don’t know why, but for me, reading domestic thrillers is like eating popcorn. Once I start, I just can’t stop. Since this is a genre that has become very popular recently, it’s hard to find a book that can completely surprise me or do something that hasn’t been done before. Unfortunately, this book didn’t have any twists or unexpected events that I didn’t see coming. Every reveal was so run of the mill and expected.
The characters weren’t especially well developed either. Once again, since we switch between different characters, it’s hard to get a sense for a person and know what they’re really all about. The characterization was a little bit lazy, and a lot cliche’d. I hated every single one of the characters, but especially Tom. He was just such a weak, selfish child. I couldn’t stand how everything he thought revolved around him and how sorry he was for himself.
Once again, I wasn’t fond of the writing or the dialogue of the book. Shari Lapena is not a bad writer at all, but there’s nothing very gripping about her writing style. It’s just very mediocre and bland. Sometimes the dialogue is a little stilted. I think a lot of people enjoy it because it’s direct and succinct, but after reading psychological thrillers by Gillian Flynn and Tana French, I’m expecting more in both characterization and writing.
Shari Lapena novels are fast-paced and enjoyable to read, but they’re pretty typical in terms of plot and writing for psychological thrillers. I don’t think I’m ever going to find another Gillian Flynn or Tana French in the genre again, but I’ll still be reading Shari Lapena’s future works.