I mentioned Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House briefly in my Reading Rush Wrap-Up, but I wanted to make a spoiler-filled post discussing the grimey details because it was an utter disappoint…
Lapena’s novel starts off with a woman having a car accident. That woman is Karen Krupp, wife of Tom Krupp. After rushing to the hospital, the Krupp’s discover Karen has a concussion and temporary amnesia. While all of these events are occurring, a man is found dead on the “bad side of town”, very close to where Karen’s accident occurred.
As Karen tries to remember what happened that night, both the Krupp’s and local detectives attempt to put the pieces together while simultaneously unveiling the many lies hidden within this seemingly innocent suburban home.
The Rant Review
We’re diving right into the spoilers because I just simply can’t hold back. You have been warned.
I gave Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House a 2/5. Since I didn’t decide to DNF this book, I bumped it up from a 1/5. It was bearable, to say the least.
I want to start off by saying that I hated the ending of this book. Since all of the charges got dropped against Karen and Brigid, I feel like there was no point to this story. To be fair, I don’t read a lot of crime thrillers — any thrillers in general, really — and this might be a good ending to some readers, but it just feels so dissatisfying to me. Of course, Brigid’s life is ruined in the end and the Krupp’s prosper, but I just wanted a more impactful ending. Where is the tragedy, people?
Another thing about the ending that irked me was the fact that we never learn what really happened the night of the murder! Did Karen kill Robert? Brigid?? Granted, it’s pretty obvious that Karen is probably the murderer, but still. At least give me some type of closure.
I’m not going to say I saw everything coming — obviously I didn’t see that cringey ending coming — but most things were not that difficult to predict. It felt like every other crime thriller movie I’d ever seen, just in book form. This is typically why I stay away from thrillers because they all feel like the same story repeating over and over again.
With only 3 focal characters, minus Detective Jennings and Rasbach, it wasn’t difficult to see Tom and Brigid’s affair unfold. To be honest, their relationship throughout the entire book made me cringe. From the disturbing seduction scenes, to the blackmail sex, I just wanted to throw the book every time they were in each other’s presence.
Without the serious adult topics, like affairs and bloody murder, Lapena’s novel felt very amateur. The writing felt very simple and basic, which is not a bad quality by any means, but I guess I expected a little more from an adult thriller. (Could be bad judgement on my part.)
None of the characters had any depth to them, except Detective Rasbach — I really enjoyed how Lapena molded him into this sensitive, yet harsh detective. It was more dialogue back and forth rather than connecting with any of the characters at all, so I didn’t really care what happened to them. At one point, I did feel sorry for Brigid because she dreamed of being a mother — I assume that is what feeds her want for Tom — but it almost felt like she was forgotten about towards the end of the story.
The premise of A Stranger in the House is intriguing; however, as much as I love Detective Rasbach, I wish Lapena would have cut the murder plot out entirely and focused the story on Brigid’s obsession with Tom and Karen. A Stranger in the House had the potential to be a creepy, disturbing tale of an obsessive neighbor who attempts to kill her “lover’s” wife and take her place. Sadly, it was more murder mystery than psychotic lovers. Obviously, I miss judged this one.
I may not have enjoyed Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House — clearly — but that doesn’t mean this is a bad book. It just isn’t the right one for me.
I’m still having a hard time deciding whether I like the thriller genre or not. On one hand, I loved Leila Slimani’s Adèle, a domestic thriller. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of crime thrillers, since that seems to be my main problem with this novel.
Rather than being biased and throwing the entire crime thriller genre to the curb like a heartless villain, I might dip my toes into a few more. Who knows, I might find one that changes my world!
With that being said, if you have any good crime thriller recommendations, send them my way. Clearly, I need all the help I can get.
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