I had read 'The Couple Next Door' by Shari Lapena last year and found it to be an okay work, at best. So when I picked up her follow up thriller,' A Stranger In the House', my expectations were quite minimal. Even after getting half way through the book,my opinion didn't change that much. Initially I almost thought that I had figured out the suspense! However towards the end, the book totally bowled me over. The two twists towards the end took me by surprise and I don't remember when was the last time that I had felt this way about a thriller. Most of the thrillers I read recently started off with a bang, plateaued in the middle to fizzle out towards the end.
Karen and Tom live a happy life. Brigit Cruikshank is their next door neighbour and Karen's best friend. But when Karen Krupp crashes her car into a pole after running out of an old dilapidated restaurant in the shady part of New York,it leaves not only Tom but also those who know Karen quite shaken. The mystery deepens when it is revealed that a man's body is also found in the restaurant from which Karen has run out of. Why did Karen go to that abandoned restaurant in the first place? Has she got something to do with the murder?
Like I mentioned in the beginning, the novel starts off like any other recent domestic-noir s. A seemingly perfect couple with their share of secrets, the wife with a dubious past, fake identities, extra-marital relationships and a neighbour who has got dubious intentions, the book does have all the thriller tropes in place. But Shari Lapena has 'twisted' all these cliches to deliver a neat ending! (Spoiler Alert: I didn't see the pregnancy twist coming!) The book is also a light,fast paced read,devoid of long, unnecessary descriptions but replete with plenty of twists and turns.(just when you think the plot is moving in a particular direction, comes a decent twist!)
On the whole, I'm giving it a 3.2 out of 5