Es sollte ein entspannendes Wochenende in einem abgelegenen Hotel in den Catskills werden. Candice White will dort an ihrem neuen Roman arbeiten, der Strafverteidiger David Paley einfach nur ein wenig Abstand vom stressigen Alltag finden. Die hübsche Dana und ihr ebenbürtiger Verlobter Matthew, Spross einer reichen New Yorker Familie, entfliehen dem Hochzeitsvorbereitungsstress, während Lauren und ihr Partnern Ian einfach nur ein Wochenende ausspannen wollen. Für die Journalistinnen und Freundinnen Gwen und Riley beginnt der Ausflug schon nicht glücklich, im Schneegestöber rutschen sie von der Fahrbahn, bleiben jedoch glücklicherweise unverletzt. Für Beverly und ihren Ehemann Henry ist der Kurzurlaub vielleicht die letzte Chance ihre Ehe zu retten. Sie alle kommen bei Bradley und seinem Vater James unter. Doch was mit großen Erwartungen beginnt, entwickelt sich schnell zum Alptraum. Nicht nur haben sie keinen Internetzugang, als der Schneesturm zu einem Stromausfall führt und man Dana tot auffindet, verwandelt sich der Hotelaufenthalt zum Horrortrip. Doch die junge Frau sollte nur das erste Opfer sein, weitere werden folgen.
Mein vierter Roman der kanadischen Autorin hat mich etwas überrascht. Nicht, dass es ihm an Spannung gemangelt hätte, nein, in diesem Punkt wurden die Erwartungen einmal mehr voll erfüllt. In einem anderen Aspekt weicht dieser Thriller vom bekannten Muster der Autorin ab: Shari Lapena hat ein geradezu klassisches Setting à la Agatha Christie gewählt, das in Perfektion umgesetzt wird. Eine überschaubare Menge an Figuren, die sich an einem unerreichbaren, abgeschiedenen Ort aufhalten und über 2 Tage damit leben müssen, dass ein Mörder unter ihnen weilt. Die Tatsache, dass es nicht nur ein einziges, sondern am Ende sogar gleich mehrere, glaubwürdig motivierte Opfer gibt – gepaart mit einer zum Schmunzeln einladenden Wendung, die man jedoch erahnen konnte – unterstreicht jedoch einmal mehr, dass Lapena gegenwärtig zu den ganz großen Autoren der Spannungsliteratur zählt.
Man würde zu viel verraten, wenn man näher auf den Plot einginge. Die Handlung folgt einem bekannten Schema, das jedoch der Spannung und der Unterhaltung keinen Abbruch tut, ganz im Gegenteil, mir hat die moderne Variante des altbewährten Krimisettings gut gefallen. Besonders der kleine Spaß mit der Tatsache, dass nur eine Figur wiederholt Mordgelüste zumindest in Gedanken hegt und für diese teuer bezahlt, liefert neben dem Kriminalfall auch geradezu ironisch-schadenfreudige Aspekte.
Eine spannende Geschichte, in die man leicht eintaucht und dann genüsslich dem Morden folgt.
Aylesford is a small community not far from New York. People know each other, are friends, have barbecues together and share their everyday problems. New to the neighbourhood are Amanda and Robert Pierce, both stunningly attractive and younger than the rest with their teenage kids. When Amanda goes missing, everybody soon blames the husband, the obvious suspect, but then, slowly, the facades of the good people start to crumble. They are not the loving husbands who go to work every day to support their beloved family, they are not the good housewives who only care for their dears and they are not the good kids of the suburbs. They all have their secrets they thought well hidden, but now it’s time for revelation.
I hardly could put down Shari Lapena’s thriller since I was hooked from the first page. She has created the perfect environment for readers who enjoy a bit of schadenfreude. Those nice people who appear to be caring and concerned about the others and who are suddenly confronted with their dark sides that threaten the picture they have drawn of themselves. A great read that was not only fun to read because all of them sooner or later have to admit their misconduct, but first and foremost, because the plot was masterly woven and thus kept suspense high until the very end.
It’s hard to say more about the plot without giving away too much. I liked how Lapena slowly unravels the revelations and shifts the focus from one character to the next. They all act suspiciously and at a certain point, I gave up believing any of them since it was too obvious that none of them is innocent in one way or the other. The author skilfully plays with the reader along these lines and this keeps you addicted since you eagerly want to find out what actually happened. It’s a brilliant, enthralling novel that you cannot stop reading once you’ve started.
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.
The perfect crime. Nothing can go wrong, it has been perfectly thought-through. But then, all is a mess. Anne and Marco are at a party at their neighbours’. Their baby daughter is at home, alone since the babysitter cancelled at short notice. But what can happen with the parents just next door and checking on the girl every 30 minutes? However, when they finally come home at half past one in the morning, the front door is ajar and the girl is gone. For the police, the parents immediately are among the suspects – and neither Anne nor Marco know whom to trust anymore. It soon becomes obvious that both of them have kept some secrets, but they are not the only ones with something to hide.
Shari Lapena has constructed a thriller which really is worth calling it one. Dropping hints here and there you quickly realize that you cannot be sure about any of the characters and that there is much more at stake than just an abducted girl. New information every so often makes you reconstruct your idea of what really happened in that night. You have just finished adjusting your thesis and it is gone. Towards the end, an even larger conspiracy comes out which is a real surprise but makes perfectly sense.
What I appreciated about the novel was not only that it could surprise me more than once, but especially the way the characters were drawn. None of them one-dimensional, they all had different shades of good and bad, of reckless and compassionate which made them appear quite lively. The plot is very well constructed, it is full of suspense and keeps you reading on the find out what is all behind. To me, it was entertainment at its best.