Cover Image: A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the House

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Member Reviews

i got to be honest i loved this book but not as much as the couple next door. i guessed the outcome, but having said that i really did enjoy this book i think it was very fast paced and truly enjoyable its definatly a worthwhile read i really enjoyed it.
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The story starts with an accident, a car plunging into an utility pole and a bewildered husband, Tom Krupp, searching for his lost wife, Karen. With the door unlocked and dinner half prepared, Karen has disappeared without her purse or cell phone. Her car is also missing. And then the Police appear at the door, Tom fears the worst.... Karen is alive but amnesiac. She alleges that she has forgotten the accident and the hours preceeding it... Has she really or is she faking it?? She seems to remember everything else and everybody including best friend/ neighbour, Brigid. 
Adding to this confusion, there is a murder, in the neighborhood of Karen's car accident. Who is the murder victim and is Karen a murderer??? 
Thus begins a roller-coaster of doubt, suspicion and wariness between Tom and Karen, with Brigid thrown in the midst. Karen seems to remembers nothing about the accident, Tom seems to have a shaky alibi and Brigid seems to want to know everything.. 
The story revolves around these three characters, their connection to each other and to the murder victim. Tom and Karen drift apart, when they should have been supportive, the lies, the unanswered questions and hurt gaining space between them. Brigid as a friend/ neighbour is the counterfoil. The police detectives soon start joining the dots, there are allegations cast, doubts raised, arrests and search warrants, anonymous tips, all that make a good police investigative story. 
This is Shari Lapena's second book after "The Couple Next Door" . She has written well. The story appears deceptively calm, reading like a routine murder mystery, cruising on, till the last few pages where the whole story reaches a different unexpected twist.  The ending is simply fabulous ... I loved it.. I loved the intelligence, the cunningness of the ending, totally worth a read.
The book is fast paced, I  finished it in a few hours, easy reading; where Karen is scared yet strong and calm, Tom appears spineless yet shows a rare loyalty, Brigid is supportive yet sly. A totally entertaining book where pages just seem to keep turning. It's not a psychological thriller or a dark suspense, it's just a different murder mystery like the calm before the storm...
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I had requested this ARC before reading the author’s debut The Couple Next Door.  In spite of rave reviews, I found it totally underwhelming.  But I remained optimistic when approaching this book. 

There are a very small number of characters in “A Stranger In The House.  And unfortunately each is as annoyingly boring as the next.  There is nothing memorable or likeable about anyone.  I found the plot very predictable and I really struggled to finish it.  

That said I do think others will enjoy this book, just as they did her first one.  It definitely was not for me.
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The book starts out strong: a man comes home from work to find the house unlocked and his wife’s car gone. The kitchen shows signs of dinner being prepared: a pot of water on the stove, vegetables chopped on the kitchen counter. He calls for his wife but there is no answer. She has left behind her purse and her mobile. Worried, he begins calling her friends, their neighbours, but no one has seen her. Then a policeman knocks on the door ....  Lapena really sets the scene here, and I actually had goosebumps visualising it!

Unfortunately, from here, the books began nosediving for me, like a shot-down plane on its fiery spiral into the abyss. Perhaps the first warning sign was the main protagonist’s amnesia. Don’t get me wrong, amnesia can be a good tool in a psychological thriller if used the right way. Include a few confusing flashbacks, some conflicting witness stories, some inner turmoil, some suspense. But not on its own, not simply to disguise the plot by throwing the big dark blanket of “I can’t remember” over everything just as an excuse to withhold vital information to the reader that could solve this “mystery” in two minutes flat. 

A Stranger in the House is a book with very few characters. Tom, Karen and Brigid from next door. And of course the detective, whose name I have already forgotten because for me, he felt like a very forgettable character. There wasn’t a single personality trait to the man that made him stand out from any other run-of-the-mill detective, except that he did not seem to be particularly good at his job.  I was surprised to discover that this was the same detective from The Couple Next Door, the author’s debut novel, which I had enjoyed. Anyway, the problem with a very small cast is that unless they are engaging and captivating, the reader soon loses interest. I thought my life was pretty boring, but compared to this little troupe my social life is a downright circus!  There are no friends, no family, no work colleagues. And to be totally honest, I hated all three characters. So now we have a problem, because I really didn’t care what happens to any of them, especially Brigid, who seemed so stereotypical that I was wondering at times if the author was writing tongue-in-cheek to throw some wild curveball right at the end. But sadly, no.

I am sure that A Stranger in the House will appeal to an audience who is less particular about their fare of “psychological thriller”. The bottom line is – I do want to be thrilled. I want my mind messed with. I want tension, I want suspense. After enjoying The Couple Next Door, it saddens me having to admit that I did not get any of this from A Stranger in the House, even though there were moments when there was real potential for it to become interesting. 

After having read a few disappointing “psychological thrillers” lately, I believe that I may simply not be the right audience for A Stranger in the House. It may appeal to people who enjoy a quick and undemanding read for the beach or the plane, but for me was lacking in depth and thrills.
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A deliciously twisted thriller, maybe one of the best I've read this year. I found it even better than The Couple Next Door and I cannot recommend Shari Lapena enough now. Her books are perfect summer reads too if you are looking for great compelling thrillers.

The writing style is more polished in this novel, making it addictive, simply unputdownable. I had trouble focusing on the daily chores with a toddler while reading this one. Luckily it is also a quick read and with the ending somewhat gratifying in the end.

Some of the characters are so multi-faceted that it spins the mind. Sure, I expected Karen to have secrets, just not as deep as it turns out in the end. Hence the deliciousness of the book so to say. Mind-twisting plans that were realised in favor of this powerful woman, leading at the same time to moral questions of all kind. So if she were really a battered woman it would all have made so much sense morally. Yet, there is a wow factor in her real secret that boggles the mind. It made me wonder how people and situations can surprise and trick others. 

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad I have asked for this one on Netgalley. Watch out for the publication date, coming up soon in July.
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Another riveting read from this author, wish I could give it more than just 5 stars. One of this years absolute MUST READS.
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A gripping thriller that is just as good as her first book.  Could have been predictable, but a few twists prevented this.
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I enjoyed this authors first book and was looking forward to reading this one. I did enjoy it but preferred her first book. This was still a really good read and I enjoyed the twists and turns and not knowing who to believe. Would recommend this book
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This is the 2nd book by this author I have read. Same as the 1st book i was not in the least bit disapointed. It had good characters in the book. Strong storyline, with lots of twists and turns to keep you interested. Saving the best until the last few sentences. Really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend to others.
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This book was enjoyable perhaps a little on the predictable side. A woman leaves the house in a hurry whilst in the process of cooking dinner leaving a worried husband.   What drove her to leave in a hurry.  Then to be involved in an accident that leaves more questions than answers.  A book that's easy to get into and enjoy
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for an advance copy of A Stranger in the House, a psychological thriller set in New York State.

Tom Krupps arrives home to find his wife missing although the house is unlocked and her bag and mobile are still there. He soon finds out she has been in a car accident in the bad part of town. He has no idea what she was doing there and she can't tell him because she has amnesia. In the meantime Detective Rasbach is investigating the murder of an unidentified man in the same part of town and when he hears about Karen's accident he puts two and two together but getting to four is not straightforward.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Stranger in the House. Ms Lapena has a good writing style which is easy to read and invites the reader to believe what she is saying. I swallowed it all, hook, line and sinker for the first half of the novel but found that I was ahead of the game in the second. I had guessed most of it by 50% but it didn't spoil my enjoyment in the slightest as the twists and turns still threw up a few surprises, as did the characters' reactions. 

I wouldn't say the plot premise is the most believable I've ever read but Ms Lapena does an excellent job with the situation. The novel is an abject lesson in the perils of gullibility. It is Tom I feel sorry for. He has no idea whom to believe and allows himself, through his own innate goodness, to be manipulated. His bewilderment at every turn of events is well done and very credible. I also like Detective Rasbach's keen instinct and investigative smarts. He is not man easily fooled and his puzzlement forces the reader to think carefully about what they think they know.

A Stranger in the House is a good read with the typical, fashionable twisted personalities and motives. It's not a genre I normally enjoy but Ms Lapena has produced a very readable novel which I can recommend as a good read.
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I had just finished Shari's first book on audio book and dived straight into this one.  
Karen is preparing dinner for her husband and then she wakes up in hospital.  She has no idea what happened or how she got there.  The police say she was in a car accident in a really bad part of town.  But what was she doing there?? She has no memory of any of it and cannot figure out how she ended up there? What could have made her get in her car and leave the house so suddenly? 
This book had so many twists and turns that I nearly had whip lash.  It was a fantastic read from start to finish.  It is the kind of book that makes you want to turn just one more page incase there's another shocker on the next page.  And the ending was spectacular  so worth the read.
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Great book, well written suspense story with three main characters, all well described and easy to 'understand'.  A sense of unease throughout the book, knowing that something was going to happen, just not knowing what. Then the final twists, not completely unexpected, but still a surprise.
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I have no idea what possessed me to request this book on NetGalley when I absolutely disliked this author's debut, The Couple Next Door. Whatever happened I did request it and was offered an ARC, which, just as the first novel, is a terribly written mess. 

Once again this author confuses the great tool that an unreliable narrator is for thrillers, with just plain and simply lying to the reader. You can't have an omniscient narrator that is unreliable. You can't just keep throwing new information that directly contradicts other offered before just to move your plot and use the "unreliable narrator" excuse when writing in 3rd person, with an omniscient narrator. If I keep repeating this for, let's say, perhaps a dozen times, alternating a bit the word order--like you do, Shari Lapena, with just about all info in your books because you apparently don't trust your readers are capable of remembering anything--maybe then you will get it? Maybe your 3rd book (that I will definitely NOT read) will not follow the same formula?

The characters could not be more stereotypical. The dialogue is preposterous. The writing is juvenile at best. The plot makes so little sense that the only way for it to "work" is by lying to the reader. Oh, and let's not forget how, once again, the detective has "intelligent eyes." He is clever. Oh, so clever. How do we know that? Because we are told so, certainly not for actions we are shown, nope. Because the actions show a very slow detective work, with lots of implausible and far-fetched sidelines that do not amount for any police procedure I have ever heard or read of. So much so that the super smart detective never solves the case. 

Seriously, this was a huge waste of time. I cannot believe I finish it. It is short, at least. 

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my (perhaps too) honest review.
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I was disappointed by this book after reading The Couple Next Door. The continuous jumps around and change in view point broke the flow of the story and i didn't care about any of the characters. Much of the inner monologue of the main character was repetitive and i couldn't connect with her at all.
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Excellent book.  Great main characters and plot.  I would recommend this book.
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This title had so many twists and turns I pretty much suspected every character at one point or another.  A definite read in one sitting title!
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Hmm.

This is one of those moments where I need to be honest and don't really want to be because I LOVED this authors first book - The Couple Next Door - and enthused about it so would love to keep up that level of support but for me, A Stranger in the House was just another predictable psychological thriller of the dime a dozen kind you see everywhere. Boy I'm so sick of characters with either a drug problem that fogs their thoughts or some random amnesia as a plot device to hide the reveals that are pretty obvious anyway. Its tired and over used now and whilst I'm not saying NEVER use it a novel that relies on it entirely tends to fall flat for me these days.

Now having said that the writing is still excellent, I love the way Shari Lapena twists her language to tell her stories. I am not put off reading future books at ALL especially considering how truly great I thought The Couple Next Door was. It was solely the plot in this one that wore me out. It genuinely felt like I'd read it before, and beautiful as the writing was, I just knew the end as soon as I started and whilst I engaged with some of the characters I didn't find them as compelling as the ones from the previous book, not because of them so much but because I felt I knew everything about them already.

Its still a good read if you like the genre - I would not want to put anyone else off at ALL, this is very subjective. I'll look forward to Shari Lapena's next book. Its not you its me!
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