Shari Lapena – A Stranger in the House

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Shari Lapena – A Stranger in the House

When Tom Krupp comes home late that evening, he is astonished: the door is not locked. And his wife apparently is in the middle of cooking. Her cell phone and her handbag are there, but where is Karen? When none of their friends have heard anything of her either, he calls the police who seem to be at his house immediately: there was an awful accident and the victim could be his wife. Tom is preoccupied and relaxed at the same time. But just as the police he wonders what his wife was doing in that part of town. When a couple of days later a dead body is discovered, Karen’s accident and the murder are quickly linked. Yet, the woman cannot remember anything from that day, she’s suffering from amnesia since the accident. More and more evidence hints at her and Tom has to find out that his wife is everything but not the woman he thought she was. However, he does not know yet that the real danger might come from somewhere completely different.

I already liked Shari Lapena’s first novel “The couple next door”, but “A stranger in the House” is much more thrilling and elaborate than her first book. First of all, there is so much the characters hide and only reveal when they are forced to. All of them have their secrets, some minor, some major, and this keeps you alert all the time. Especially since you never know whom you can actually trust.

First of all Karen. It is obvious quite from the start that she has some buried secrets from her past and that she deliberately lied to her husband. Nevertheless, she is good at playing roles – also with the reader so until the very last pages. You cannot be sure of who she is and what she is capable of. Second comes Tom. He seems to be a nice and trustful guy, easy to delude perhaps. I was taken by surprise that he also has something kept from his wife which will play a major role in the development of the case. Third Brigid, their neighbour and close friend of Karen. I didn’t like her from the start. She is that nosy observer across the street who is meddling all the time and sticking her nose in other people’s matters. That her role takes some interesting turn came rather as a surprise to me.

Even though the reader gets a much better picture of what happened than the police, there is still enough in the dark to keep you from knowing for sure. Since there were so many unexpected twists and turns, I wasn’t completely certain what to believe was the truth until the very end. The plot was cleverly constructed and to me absolutely convincing in all respects.

To sum up, a thriller which keeps you alert and reading on.

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