Review: A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena

2017: 65
3 of 5 stars
Published 2017

I enjoyed Ms. Lapena’s first novel, The Couple Next Door and was pleased to win this in a Goodreads giveaway. This book starts with a woman driving away from a derelict area and crashing her car. She can’t remember anything about why she was where she was or any other circumstances about the crash. A  murdered man is discovered in an abandoned restaurant. The two incidents may be related.

The woman is Karen and her husband is Tom. They’ve been married for 2 years but it turns out Karen’s past is a blank, not just to Tom. The more Tom realizes he doesn’t know his wife at all, the more he becomes suspicious. Is she a murderer? Did she know the dead man? Who is she, really? Karen claims she can’t remember the accident but she knows something. What is in her past that she seems to want to hide? Is it related to the murder/accident?

Not bad, though kind of predictable. The plot twist about Karen’s background didn’t inspire me. It’s been done before and is a fairly standard plot device. When her memory starts coming back, it felt too coincidental that, at first, she remembered right up until the crucial minutes and that dragged on a bit longer again until her memory was fully restored. Add in a cliche obsessed neighbour, a former lover of Tom’s and a determined detective.

Tom is irritating and hypocritical, having his own secret or two and then getting in a knot over his wife’s past.  The two twists at the end were also predictable, pulling the rating down another half a point.  The book is written well enough but it’s not really very original.

This was a Goodreads giveaway that I won for a review.



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