A Stranger in the House
Author: Shari Lapena
Published on: August 15, 2017
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 305 [hardcover]
“The house sits on a gentle curving street that ends in a cul-de-sac. The surrounding houses are all equally attractive and well maintained, and relatively similar. People who live here are successful and settled; everyone’s a little bit smug” (3).
Karen Krupp, a suburban housewife, just woke up in the hospital. She does not remember how she got there, but her head is throbbing. Her husband, Tom, tells her that she was driving erratically and crashed into a telephone pole. Driving recklessly is highly unlike Karen; she is a model citizen and never even drives over the speed limit. The doctors tell her that her memory should come back. Short-term amnesia is common with head trauma.
On the same evening around the same place that Karen crashed her car, a man was murdered in an abandoned restaurant. It is a shady part of town, Karen should never have been there. The detectives find it questionable and alarming that she ‘conveniently’ does not remember what happened that night.
A coworker lent me this book with high praise. She thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I did not feel the same way. I was wary going into it because I read Lapena’s The Couple Next Door last summer. Long story short, I found it predictable and unoriginal and I had the same issues with A Stranger in the House; I am realizing that this is Lapena’s format. The plots unravel exactly as you expect them to, with a slight twist at the very end.
The story is told from an omniscient point of view, which I did like. The broad perspective adds more depth to the mystery. The narrator follows Karen, Tom (the husband), Brigid (the best friend/neighbor), and the detectives. It is clear from the start that Brigid is a suspicious and envious character, hence the predictability.
If you are looking for a beach read with short chapters and mystery, this book is for you. Contrarily, if you are a psychological thriller fanatic or avid reader, I would not recommend this book. While this might be some people’s cup of tea, I prefer the complex, unknown, and utterly shocking.
by José Saramago
International bestseller & winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature