Shari Lapena’s Stranger in the House book review

Quarantine for the nth week and the coronavirus shows no sign of letting up, world. Oh well, no point letting precious time go to waste. ‘Tis the season to do all the stuff we don’t normally have the luxury of time for….like read novels….or write on this blog. Finally, the time is here….

Battered wife Georgina Traynor starts over a new life as Karen Krupp, married to Tom Krupp. Just as Karen thinks she has successfully faked her suicide and is now living peacefully in a new neighborhood with her new husband, the past finds its way to the doorstep of her new house.

Her former husband Robert Raynor was not fooled by her disappearance and has managed to track her down. Karen starts to feel that someone is snooping around her house as she discovers things are not as she has left them.

One day she receives a call from Robert asking her to meet him in an ill reputed bar. Determined to preserve the status quo of her new life, she rushes out for the appointment. She takes her car and a gun for her protection. She goes to meet her former husband with the intention of ending any existing involvement. In her hurry to end the meeting, she drives out of the seedy meeting place at breakneck speed leading to an accident wherein she suffers amnesia. As for Robert Raynor, he is found dead by a bullet from Karen’s gun. Karen’s fingerprints end up on the crime scene. Not unexpectedly, Karen ends up the primary suspect for the killing. But she insists she didn’t do it. Unfortunately, her amnesia also gives her no solid alibi.

So if Karen didn’t shoot, who did? And was it really Robert snooping around the house? Enters the twist and the stranger in the house.

Next door neighbor Brigid Cruickshank has been making every possible attempt to be Karen’s friend with the ulterior motive of snagging Karen’s husband. It turns out Brigid Cruickshank and Tom Krupp were involved before Tom and Karen were married.

Brigid has not moved on. She watches the Krupp house like clockwork and was present when Karen rushed out on the road to meet Robert. She followed Karen to the bar, saw Karen leave the gun at the bar, picked it up and shot Robert with it, then planted it at the Krupp’s garage for the police to find. She attempts to frame Karen for murder so she ends up in prison, all under the illusion that she and Tom can be together again if Karen is put away. Brigid’s obsession with Tom has reached a point where she enters their house when the couple is away to snoop around.

Brigid’s obsession led to her downfall when the police questioned why her fingerprints are all over the Krupp’s house, on the murder weapon AND on the public phone which was used to call the police to report Karen’s involvement in the murder.

In the end, neither Brigid nor Karen took the fall for Robert’s murder due to lack of evidence. The perfect crime? Maybe.

Recommended reading? Yes, for someone looking for twists and turns that keep you guessing which way the story is going to go next; for someone looking for validation that it’s acceptable to stalk and sabotage the life of a former lover who has moved on – sarcasm intended.

Realistic? It’s hard to believe it’s that easy for someone’s disappearance to be ruled out as suicide when no body is produced. It’s hard to believe the police are stupid enough to believe amnesia as a defense for the commission of murder. Doesn’t the human conscience serve as its own reminder? On the side of human obsession, it may just be true there are some people pathetic enough to frame someone for murder, track an old lover down for whatever reason. Lastly, it’s unclear what makes Tom Krupp so appealing that two women obsess over him throughout the book.

Overall, the book was unpredictable enough to provide the needed entertainment for this ongoing quarantine.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s