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Description

Product Description

Shari Lapena’s new thriller, AN UNWANTED GUEST, is available now!

“Smart and suspenseful. . . you''ll never see the ending coming.” --PureWow

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say,
Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, Glad to be home.


Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There''s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes.  Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. 

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won''t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Review

Praise for A Stranger in the House:

“Lapena’s  A Stranger in the House will have you sleeping with the lights on for weeks.” 
—Bustle

“Smart and suspenseful. . . you''ll never see the ending coming.”
--PureWow

 “So much suspense. So many twists. Good luck sleeping tonight.”  
—Hello Giggles

“Nothing beats end-of-summer blues like diving into a thrilling story—and this novel delivered. . .  riveting.”
First for Women 

“So many dizzying twists you''d better not drive after reading!”
—Linwood Barclay, New York Times bestselling author of Parting Shot
 
“Smart, twisty and compulsive. Suspense and suspicion accumulate relentlessly, toying with your expectations and your emotions right up until the packs-a-punch ending. Don’t miss it, and don’t expect to be able to put it down.”
—Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Girl

“A diverting page-turner."
--Publishers Weekly

"Great suspense and lots of twists."
--The Toronto Star

"Lapena keeps the well-developed twists churning, with each a surprise notch in this ever-evolving plot, and she continues this skillful storytelling until the stunning twist at the end. . . memorable." --Associated Press

Praise for The Couple Next Door:

“Meticulously crafted and razor sharp. The Couple Next Door lingers long after you turn the final page.”
—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fool Me Once

“The twists come as fast [as] you can turn the pages.” 
People

“Provocative and shocking. One crime, an entire neighborhood of suspects, secrets and lies. How well do we ever know those around us? The Couple Next Door will keep you glued to the pages in search of the answer. Even then, you’ll never guess the truth . . . until it''s too late.”
—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Find Her

“I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the story line. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!”
—Sue Grafton, New York Times bestselling author of X

“Real men read women writers–because of books like this. Trust me.”
—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Make Me

“A twisty, utterly riveting tale that will send readers on a wild roller-coaster ride of emotions. Shocking revelations kept me turning the pages like a madwoman.”
—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Playing with Fire

“Expertly paced and finely crafted, The Couple Next Door is a gripping thriller of the highest order. I couldn’t put it down.”
—A. J. Banner, bestselling author of The Good Neighbor

“Gripped me from the very beginning to the very end!”
Becky Masterman, author of Rage Against the Dying

“Brilliant! This utterly riveting psychological thriller hurtles along at breakneck speed, never giving you the opportunity to catch your breath. Twisty, turny, and unputdownable.”
—C. L. Taylor, bestselling  author of The Lie

“Exquisitely torturous tension.”
—NPR.org


“Where did that baby go! It’s hard not to read to the end to find out, and the twists waiting there are gratifyingly clever.”
USA Today

“The many never-saw-them-coming twists and questionable characters . . . will keep you on the edge of your seat. First-time novelist Lapena’s writing is spare and tense, and it makes The Couple Next Door a compulsive read. The last line is absolutely a killer.”
—Good Housekeeping


“[A] well-sculpted domestic thriller . . . highly suspenseful . . . Twists are subtly revealed with aplomb, taking the story to increasingly unpredictable levels.”
The Associated Press

About the Author

Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of the thrillers The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know, The End of Her, and Not a Happy Family, which have all been New York Times and The Sunday Times (London) bestsellers. Her books have been sold in thirty-seven territories around the world. She lives in Toronto.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

On this hot August night, Tom Krupp parks his car–a leased Lexus–in the driveway of his handsome two-story home. The house, complete with a two-car garage, is set behind a generous lawn and framed with beautiful old trees. To the right of the driveway, a flagstone path crosses in front of the porch, with steps leading up to a solid wooden door in the middle of the house. To the right of the front door is a large picture window the width of the living room.

The house sits on a gently 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.

This quiet, prosperous suburb in upstate New York, populated with mostly professional couples and their families, seems oblivious to the problems of the small city that surrounds it, oblivious to the problems of the larger world, as if the American dream has continued to live on here, smooth and unruffled.

But the untroubled setting does not match Tom''s current state of mind. He cuts the lights and the engine and sits uneasily for a moment in the dark, despising himself.

Then, with a start, he notices that his wife''s car is not in its usual place in the driveway. He automatically checks his watch: 9:20. He wonders if he''s forgotten something. Was she going out? He can''t remember her mentioning anything, but he''s been so busy lately. Maybe she just went out to run an errand and will be back any minute. She''s left the lights on; they give the house a welcoming glow.

He gets out of the car into the summer night–it smells of freshly mown grass–swallowing his disappointment. He wanted, rather fervently, to see his wife. He stands for a moment, his hand on the roof of the car, and looks across the street. Then he grabs his briefcase and suit jacket from the passenger seat and tiredly closes the car door. He walks along the path, up the front steps, and opens the door. Something is wrong. He holds his breath.

Tom stands completely still in the doorway, his hand resting on the knob. At first he doesn''t know what''s bothering him. Then he realizes what it is. The door wasn''t locked. That in itself isn''t unusual-most nights he comes home and opens the door and walks right in, because most nights Karen''s home, waiting for him. But she''s gone out with her car and forgotten to lock the door. That''s very odd for his wife, who''s a stickler about locking the doors. He slowly lets out his breath. Maybe she was in a rush and forgot.

His eyes quickly take in the living room, a serene rectangle of pale gray and white. It''s perfectly quiet; there''s obviously no one home. She left the lights on, so she must not have gone out for long. Maybe she went to get some milk. There will probably be a note for him. He tosses his keys onto the small table by the front door and heads straight for the kitchen at the back of the house. He''s starving. He wonders if she''s already eaten or whether she''s been waiting for him.

It''s obvious that she''s been preparing their supper. A salad is almost finished; she has stopped slicing mid-tomato. He looks at the wooden cutting board, at the tomato and the sharp knife lying beside it. There''s pasta on the granite counter, ready to be cooked, a large pot of water on the stainless steel gas stove. The stove is off and the water in the pot is cold; he dips a finger in to check. He scans the refrigerator door for a note-there''s nothing written on the whiteboard for him. He frowns. He pulls his cell phone out of his pants pocket and checks to see if there''s any message from her that he might have missed. Nothing. Now he''s mildly annoyed. She might have told him.

Tom opens the door to the refrigerator and stands there for a minute, staring sightlessly at its contents, then grabs an imported beer and decides to start the pasta. He''s sure she''ll be home any minute. He looks around curiously to see what they might have run out of. They have milk, bread, pasta sauce, wine, parmesan cheese. He checks the bathroom-there''s plenty of toilet paper. He can''t think of anything else that might be urgent. While he waits for the water to come to a boil, he calls her cell, but she doesn''t pick up.

Fifteen minutes later, the pasta is ready, but there is no sign of his wife. Tom leaves the pasta in the strainer in the sink, turns off the burner under the pot of tomato sauce, and wanders restlessly into the living room, his hunger forgotten. He looks out the large picture window across the lawn to the street beyond. Where the hell is she? He''s starting to get anxious now. He calls her cell again and hears a faint vibration coming from behind him. He whips his head toward the sound and sees her cell phone, vibrating against the back of the sofa. Shit. She forgot her phone. How can he reach her now?

He starts looking around the house for clues as to where she might have gone. Upstairs, in their bedroom, he''s surprised to find her bag sitting on her bedside table. He opens it with clumsy fingers, faintly guilty about going through his wife''s purse. It feels private. But this is an emergency. He dumps the contents onto the middle of their neatly made bed. Her wallet is there, her change purse, lipstick, pen, a tissue packet-it''s all there. Not an errand then. Maybe she stepped out to help a friend? An emergency of some kind? Still, she would have taken her purse with her if she was driving the car. And wouldn''t she have called him by now if she could? She could borrow someone else''s phone. It''s not like her to be thoughtless.

Tom sits on the edge of the bed, quietly unraveling. His heart is beating too fast. Something is wrong. He thinks that maybe he should call the police. He considers how that might go. My wife went out and I don''t know where she is. She left without her phone and her purse. She forgot to lock the door. It''s completely unlike her. They probably won''t take him seriously if she''s been gone such a short time. He hasn''t seen any sign of a struggle. Nothing is out of place.

Suddenly he gets up off the bed and rapidly searches the entire house. But he finds nothing alarming–no phone knocked off the hook, no broken window, no smear of blood on the floor. Even so, he''s breathing as anxiously as if he had.

He hesitates. Perhaps the police will think they''ve had an argument. It won''t matter if he tells them there was no argument, if he tells them they almost never argue. That theirs is an almost perfect marriage.

Instead of calling the police, he runs back into the kitchen, where Karen keeps a list of phone numbers, and starts calling her friends.

-

Looking at the wreckage in front of him, Officer Kirton shakes his head in resignation. People and cars. He''s seen things to make his stomach empty itself on the spot. It wasn''t that bad this time.

There''d been no identification on the crash victim, a woman, probably early thirties. No purse, no wallet. But the vehicle registration and insurance had been in the glove compartment. The car is registered to a Karen Krupp, at 24 Dogwood Drive. She''ll have some explaining to do. And some charges to face. For now, she''s been taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital.

As far as he can figure, and according to witnesses, she was traveling like a bat out of hell. She ran a red light and smashed the red Honda Civic right into a pole. It''s a miracle no one else was hurt.

She was probably high, Kirton thinks. They would get a tox screen on her.

He wonders if the car was stolen. Easy enough to find out.

Thing was, she didn''t look like a car thief or a druggie. She looked like a housewife. As far as he could tell through all that blood.

-

Tom Krupp has called the people he knows Karen sees most often. If they don''t know where she might be, then he isn''t waiting any longer. He''s calling the police.

His hand trembles as he picks up the phone again. He feels sick with fear.

A voice comes on the line, "911. Where''s your emergency?"

As soon as he opens the door and sees the cop on his doorstep, his face serious, Tom knows something very bad has happened. He is filled with a nauseating dread.

"I''m Officer Fleming," the cop says, showing his badge. "May I come in?" he asks respectfully, in a low voice.

"You got here fast," Tom says. "I just called 911 a few minutes ago." He feels as if he might be going into shock.

"I''m not here because of a 911 call," the officer says.

Tom leads him into the living room and collapses onto the large white sofa as if his legs have given out, not looking at the officer''s face. He wants to delay the moment of truth for as long as possible.

But that moment has come. He finds that he can hardly breathe.

"Put your head down," Officer Fleming says, and places his hand gently on Tom''s shoulder.

Tom leans his head toward his lap, feeling like he''s going to pass out. He fears that his world is coming to an end. After a moment he looks up. He has no idea what''s coming next, but he knows it can''t be good.

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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 54.4 out of 5
5,647 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Lisa E.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Most Pedestrian Book I''ve Read in Ages
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2017
I do not...do not understand the five star reviews. I pre-ordered this book because I really enjoyed Lapena''s debut novel "The Couple Next Door" and actually have a hard time believing the same person wrote both books. This book is pedestrian beyond... See more
I do not...do not understand the five star reviews. I pre-ordered this book because I really enjoyed Lapena''s debut novel "The Couple Next Door" and actually have a hard time believing the same person wrote both books.

This book is pedestrian beyond belief. Sentences like "Tom felt sad" or "Karen was nervous" read like an adult version of "Dick and Jane." There were sentences just that short and I don''t believe that I have ever read adult fiction that was this juvenile sounding. After reading books like "Gone Girl," "The Girl on the Train," "Behind Closed Doors" and other thrillers that were not only compelling plot-wise but well-written, this book was just plain terrible.

I don''t care that none of the characters were likable (that''s not a prerequisite for me) but they were so intrinsically uninteresting and boring that I had to finish the book by breezing through the short sentences to get to the end.

If it''s not clear by now that I hated this book, I''ll say it right now. I hated this book.

Lisa is annoyed.

The End.
301 people found this helpful
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Carol A.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I could not like even one of the characters
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2017
If I could put NO Stars I would. Very disappointing after the first one. I could not like even one of the characters. She used a tired and boring formula. Not everyone is having an affair with the neighbor. Having to repeat how much the couple loved each other in their... See more
If I could put NO Stars I would. Very disappointing after the first one. I could not like even one of the characters. She used a tired and boring formula. Not everyone is having an affair with the neighbor. Having to repeat how much the couple loved each other in their soliloquies was the only evidence that it was a fact. Sorry Shari.
73 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2017
The characters had no depth, the book was predictable and I battled on to the end hoping that at some point it would improve. Unfortunately it didn''t apart from a feeble attempt at a twist in the last couple of pages.
56 people found this helpful
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Helene Stephens
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Twisty Mysterious Plot, Flat Narrative
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2018
I noticed that some reviewers loved this book, and others were less than enthusiastic. I can appreciate both sides of the opinions. I think that the basic mystery was a good one, and the answer to "whodunit?" changed in my mind during several points in the story. I even... See more
I noticed that some reviewers loved this book, and others were less than enthusiastic. I can appreciate both sides of the opinions. I think that the basic mystery was a good one, and the answer to "whodunit?" changed in my mind during several points in the story. I even started to suspect one of the less visible characters as the guilty party. So for the imagination that created all the twists and turns, I say "I Liked It" - and that''s 3 Stars.

My main criticism concerns the author''s writing style. It seemed immature and used an overabundance of short sentences that began with the character''s name and then completed the thought in almost childlike simplicity. For example: "Karen''s happy again, for which Tom is grateful. And Tom is happy ..." The notion of a consistent point-of-view seems to get lost sometimes. I think that a more polished writing style with some verbal complexity would have made this story much better.

Still, I enjoyed it enough to complete the book, even if I did skim a few pages of short declarative sentences. Also, I never require an author to give me a surprise ending because I just like to let the plot lead me. But this book did have a mystifying turn that kept me puzzling, and it was interesting in that way. So three-stars - I liked its twisty plot.
21 people found this helpful
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Brandi
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stranger in the house
Reviewed in the United States on September 9, 2017
This book ignores complicated scenarios and ignores police forensics. It talks about how intelligent the police are, but apparently they have no interest in looking into the background of a murder suspect and do not know how to check a pair of gloves to see if they were... See more
This book ignores complicated scenarios and ignores police forensics. It talks about how intelligent the police are, but apparently they have no interest in looking into the background of a murder suspect and do not know how to check a pair of gloves to see if they were used while firing a gun. Sloppy writing and just an insult to the intelligence of people who grew up watching police detective work on tv.
69 people found this helpful
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T.L.M
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Written at a 3rd Grade Reading Level - Waste of Money! Written by a Child Perhaps?
Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2020
I rarely give a bad book review. The very fact that someone had the talent to actually write the book means a lot for me. However, this was the most juvenile book I''ve read since the 3rd grade. It feels like something a 6th grader would have written for the 3rd grader and... See more
I rarely give a bad book review. The very fact that someone had the talent to actually write the book means a lot for me. However, this was the most juvenile book I''ve read since the 3rd grade. It feels like something a 6th grader would have written for the 3rd grader and I''m not kidding. I feel totally tricked out of my money on this one. I''m shocked this book was actually published for adult reading. I could have pulled out an old Hardy Boys book and had more fun. At least I would have been reading at teenage level. Not only was the writing completely dumbed down, the storyline and events were completely stupid. She panics and insists someone has been in the house in her absence because a water glass was on the counter. If I panicked every time I returned home to find a glass of water here or there I''d be locked up by now. Who remembers if they drank all their water, put the glass in the dishwasher or left it out? I''m always drinking water and so is my husband. Even so, I''d need more than a water glass out of place before I assumed someone had been in the house. Why would anyone break into your house just to drink a glass of water and do nothing else? And the police ask her if she''s missing a pair of rubber gloves from the kitchen -seriously? Is this an item anyone would seriously miss? I wouldn''t have a clue if a police officer asked me about my rubber dishwashing gloves. These are items that get tossed out from time to time anyway when they wear out or you poke them with a sharp object in the sink. They go missing all the time. Wouldn''t you just open another pair? As for my husband, he would have no clue what color the kitchen gloves are. And the husband in this story knew hers were pink - and that they were missing. This is about as deep as the plot gets in this book. A mysterious glass of water left on the countertop and missing pair of pink kitchen gloves must add up to murder! Be kind to yourself and bypass this book. Dear lord!
7 people found this helpful
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Cheryl Cunningham
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I enjoyed her book The Couple Next Door but A Stranger ...
Reviewed in the United States on October 4, 2017
I felt the story was predictable and the writing a bit superficial. I enjoyed her book The Couple Next Door but A Stranger in the House was disappointing.
44 people found this helpful
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Evelyn S. Behar
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Awful
Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2019
Lapena’s writing was truly awful in this novel. The entire book features short sentences with the same structure repeated over and over. “The gun was purchased illegally.” “Her lawyer and her husband looked at her.” “Karen stares at him in surprise.” OMG shoot me.... See more
Lapena’s writing was truly awful in this novel. The entire book features short sentences with the same structure repeated over and over. “The gun was purchased illegally.” “Her lawyer and her husband looked at her.” “Karen stares at him in surprise.” OMG shoot me.

The whole thing felt formulaic. Hard to believe this wasn’t written for a 10th grade Honors English class somewhere.... Sorry, but if you appreciate semi-decent writing, even in your occasional junky-book splurge, don’t waste your time.
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Top reviews from other countries

Amber
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Stranger In The House
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 10, 2017
I couldn’t wait to pick this one up because I liked Lapena’s debut, The Couple Next Door, so much and I was totally ready for another thriller. I bought it as soon as it came out, which is the first time that’s happened in a good while. For some reason, I find Lapena’s...See more
I couldn’t wait to pick this one up because I liked Lapena’s debut, The Couple Next Door, so much and I was totally ready for another thriller. I bought it as soon as it came out, which is the first time that’s happened in a good while. For some reason, I find Lapena’s writing style to be quite captivating. A Stranger in the House has a slightly different tone than The Couple Next Door. This is mostly because Lapena makes use of the various narrators a lot more. Because the narrative jumps around from character to character so much, the reader is kept in the dark until the author wants them to know something. This was an interesting way of dealing with the mystery, and it worked well enough. It’s not my favourite style of writing, but in this case I didn’t mind it and it kept me intrigued. That said, this book wasn’t as intense as The Couple Next Door, possibly because of the way the story was told. I was just as invested in the mystery, but I think it focussed on a few too many characters for my liking. I did like reading the detective’s chapters, though. It added an interesting element as I got to read about both sides of the investigation. I think Lapena was going with a Gone Girl vibe here, and it didn’t really work. Not as well as I would have liked, anyway. I liked the female characters individually as they were interesting and had good backstories, but at the same time I hated their relationship with each other. It wasn’t portrayed very well at all. There was a lot of jealousy there, amongst other things (I’m avoiding spoilers! Gah!), and I didn’t like it all that much. A Stranger in the House is a good thriller, and I would recommend reading it if you’re looking for something to get sucked into. I would start with The Couple Next Door, though, if you’re looking to read something by Shari Lapena. It’s a much stronger novel.
40 people found this helpful
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CJ
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Boring and predictable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 17, 2018
I ploughed my way through this book hoping it would get better but it was so boring and predictable. There is a tiny twist at the end but definitely not worth reading just for this. Unlikeable characters. I won''t be reading any more of her books - life is too short!
20 people found this helpful
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AnnaC
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2018
I really enjoyed The Couple Next Door and often like to intersperse reading good quality fiction with light thrillers (with no gore!). Unfortunately, this is a very weak psychological thriller. I didn’t really care who did what. I skimmed the last pages to find out and was...See more
I really enjoyed The Couple Next Door and often like to intersperse reading good quality fiction with light thrillers (with no gore!). Unfortunately, this is a very weak psychological thriller. I didn’t really care who did what. I skimmed the last pages to find out and was neither surprised nor very interested in the ending. I am very surprised, though, by the number of positive reviews.
17 people found this helpful
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Candygirl
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Thin and insubstantial
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2019
This book speeds along, you will finish it in no time as the chapters are short, always end with a cliffhanger and pick up in the next chapter where the last left off, so you will read "just one more chapter". Ultimately though the book felt thin like a watery soup, not...See more
This book speeds along, you will finish it in no time as the chapters are short, always end with a cliffhanger and pick up in the next chapter where the last left off, so you will read "just one more chapter". Ultimately though the book felt thin like a watery soup, not meaty and substantial like a big stew. Not much actually happens and the whole plot centres around one event. The writer is competent but nothing more, no descriptions for atmosphere or character definition, no extra details just he said, she said, he did, she did. There were a few examples of sloppy writing - a detective looks at a corpse and says "if only he could talk", well yes, that would make policing much easier. Another character is describes as "not suited for prison", who on earth is suited to prison? All in all, not awful but not great, don''t spend more than 99p, it''s a teadand throw away story and won''t linger in your memory.
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5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Riveting Pschological Thriller.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 9, 2021
This is my fifth Shari Lapena novel. It is by far the best of them, including the excellent’ The Couple next Door’. Setting apart Detective Rasbach and his sidekick, there are only three central characters, yet out of this very close situation the author weaves a...See more
This is my fifth Shari Lapena novel. It is by far the best of them, including the excellent’ The Couple next Door’. Setting apart Detective Rasbach and his sidekick, there are only three central characters, yet out of this very close situation the author weaves a fascinating story, grounded in a credible event and sustained through a panorama of shifting feelings and perspectives. I can’t recall a more compelling thriller; I read it in three stints and each break was a wrench. Many novels in this genre, are successful in complicating a situation. But then, having built up high expectations, let us down with a melodramatic or otherwise unconvincing climax. Here, I found the whole book wholly convincing. Strongly recommended.
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