I’ve reached that sweet spot in my reading list where I can finally pick books to read off my shelf that I simply want to read. I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, because I love working with different organizations to review books, creating reading lists, etc. but I rarely get to just pick a book to read for fun-I normally select books with a secondary purpose, other than pleasure. A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena is one of those books that I’ve been dying to read since it came out, but just couldn’t fit it in until now.

Canadian author Shari Lapena

Her first book The Couple Next Door was a huge success, although I didn’t read it myself because it was about a baby disappearing (I’m still too young of a mom to be able to handle stories such like that). But after seeing that book just about everywhere, I was determined to give her second book, A Stranger in the House a try. When it came out, the reviews were mixed, people seemed a bit disappointed by it, probably due to to the fact that The Couple book was so popular, it’s nearly impossible to follow that up with an equally fantastic novel again. The differing opinions only made me want to read the book even more, so here we are.

A Stranger is about a happily married couple who hits a roadblock, with the wife Karen, literally crashing her car into a pole and developing a bit of amnesia. It’s discovered she was racing away from the location of a murder, and her husband Tom is shocked at this strange and totally out of character behaviour for Karen, not to mention completely freaked out that his perfect life now involves a murder charge against his wife. He begins to question whether he can trust Karen, (which duh, he clearly can’t) as he realizes he knows nothing about her childhood, and has never met a family member of friend of hers. She claims her entire family is dead, and is vague about her friends.

UK cover of A Stranger in the House

Aside from the fact that Tom is incredibly naive, and Karen just sounds like a terrible person in general, I was still invested in this story. The characterization was pretty awful, I must admit. None of the people in this book are worth caring about, but Lapena’s plot development is what keeps us moving quickly so I still wanted to know what the outcome was going to be. The twists aren’t really that shocking either, I guessed what was going on about halfway through the book, yet the tension was still palpable, so clearly Lapena was doing something right. I can’t really put my finger on why I enjoyed this book, but I did. Have I read better thrillers before? Yes, but this is just what I needed, and anyone looking for a page-turner would certainly enjoy this, irritating characters and all.

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