A Stranger in the House – Book Review

For those who have read Shari Lapena’s book The Couple Next Door and loved it, you will equally enjoy this page-turning thriller. I have to start by saying that I absolutely loved this book!

A Stranger in the House grabs your attention from page one and doesn’t let it go until the end. In fact, once I was done reading this book I wanted more. I literally didn’t want to put the book down and looked forward to reading it on my bus ride to and from work every day. The book begins with a terrified woman, Karen Krupp, running out of an abandoned restaurant, located in a rough neighborhood in upstate New York. Next thing you know, she is driving through the streets like a maniac, runs a curb and drives into a utility pool. When she finally awakens, she has no idea what happened. She’s in the hospital and can’t remember anything from the night before.

That same night, her husband Tom Krupp returns home to see that his wife isn’t there. Her car isn’t in her usual spot in the driveway, the front door is unlocked, it’s obvious that she had started preparing dinner and she didn’t leave a note. She appeared to have gone somewhere urgently. Of course, he found this odd and after waiting a while for her to return, he called 911. Then, to his surprise, the police knock on his door and explain to him that his wife has been in a car accident. They inform him that Karen had been driving recklessly and crashed into a pole. Tom can’t believe this. His wife is extremely cautious and had no reason to be driving home from that part of town. He is certain that the woman the police want him to ID isn’t his wife but, to his surprise, she is.

Once discharged from the hospital, Karen returns home and her memory hasn’t returned. This seems convenient to the cops and frustrates both Karen and her husband. Soon after, the cops inform them that a man’s body was found at a restaurant in the same area of town Karen was running from and that a pair of pink rubber gloves were found at the scene. After seeing a picture of the gloves, both Karen and Tom know that they are hers. Tom realizes that his wife may be keeping something from him and Karen doesn’t believe that she could be capable of killing anyone.

As the police continue to investigate the murder, more and more evidence linking Karen to the murder scene starts to pile up and Tom starts to doubt whether or not he really knows Karen after all. When they met, she told him that her parents had passed, that she had no siblings and didn’t really keep in touch with her old friends. Although he found this odd, he believed her. The only real friend Karen had was their neighbor Brigid Cruikshank. A married woman who lives across the street from the Krupps and, although Karen doesn’t know it, has a sick obsession with watching over their house and lives. Unfortunately, Brigid and her husband have been having difficulties conceiving and this had taken a toll on their marriage. Brigid is a stay at home wife and spends most of her time at home, alone, watching over the Krupps. CREEPY!!!!

Once Karen has returned home from the hospital, she realizes that things are being misplaced in their home. Someone has been entering their house and moving things around. A glass was left out, someone had been laying in their bed, and the top of her perfume bottle wasn’t placed back on properly. I started to wonder if she was losing it or if someone had really been in their home? Tom believes that she is tired and simply isn’t remembering things properly.

During her recovery period, the police are relentless. They believe that Karen is responsible for the murder and keep digging. They interview the neighbors, Brigid and the Krupps numerous times but can’t find enough evidence to charge her. While they continue on with their investigation, Brigid continues to watch over the Krupps and we eventually learn that Brigid sees Karen’s accident and her link to the murder as an opportunity! An opportunity to steal what was once hers. Her best friend’s husband. Little did Karen know, Tom and Brigid dated before she met Tom and Brigid was obsessed with him. They had had an affair and she never wanted it to end. She sees the murder as a prime opportunity to put Karen behind bars for good and to have Tom all to herself (What!!!! I couldn’t believe this).

Tom is ready to do anything and everything to keep his wife from going to jail and Karen wishes that she could remember anything from that dreadful night. Anything that will help her get out of this sticky situation…

Believe it or not, the book has a couple more twists and “WHATTT” moments so I don’t want to spoil them for you. I know that I gave away the ending in my previous book review on The Woman in Cabin 10 but this one is too good to give away. I rather you read it and let me know what you think :). I promise you, it is well worth the read!

Overall, I give this book an 8.5/10. Why not a 10, well although I absolutely LOVED this book and found the ending to be satisfying I wanted more. I wanted to know more about what the future held for each of the characters. Perhaps the author, Shari Lapena, ended the book the way she did because she plans on writing a sequel? Who knows. Time will tell 😉 If she does, I will definitely buy it.

What have you read lately? I’d love to know! I’m in search of my next read and could use some recommendations.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend!

Ash

The woman in cabin 10 – Book review

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The woman in cabin 10, a mystifying treat for those who enjoy a good psychological thriller mixed with adventure and a slice of anxiety. This book has many of the features that I look for in a fictional read including mystery and adventure along with luxury and elegance. The book’s author, Ruth Ware, grasps our attention from the gecko when the main character Lo Blacklock, a writer for a high-end travel magazine called Velocity, is awakened to noises in her home. After a few moments, she realizes that there’s an intruder. I think that a break and enter is something that we all fear which is why this invasion of privacy, in the middle of the night, caught my attention. Lucky for Lo, she lives to tell this story but it’s from then onward that things really start to go south for her.

Following the invasion and her strange reaction to the event including her reluctance to tell the police, her boyfriend, family and work, Lo is offered a work opportunity to board a small luxury cruise ship heading for Scandinavia to see the Scandinavian fjords. The cruise ship offers 10 cabins, the finest meals, spa treatments and the best views that the fjords have to offer. Lo doesn’t want to pass up on this opportunity, especially since it was only offered to her because her colleague was on maternity leave. Knowing that this would be a trip of a lifetime and that it may also allow her to climb up the ranks at Velocity, Lo decides to go anyway. Little did she know, her trip would begin with a murder of a beautiful young woman.

While preparing for the first evening on the ship, Lo realizes that she forgot to pack her mascara. She knocks on Cabin 10’s door and a beautiful brunette answers. Trying to get Lo to leave quickly, the brunette gives Lo her mascara and tells her to keep it. Lo finds the girl’s behavior odd but leaves it at that. While at dinner, she looks for the girl from cabin 10 but she is nowhere to be found. At the end of the night, while lying in her bed, Lo is sure that she hears a woman thrown over board. She is convinced that she heard the woman from cabin 10 scream, that she saw her body float away underwater and that there was blood splattered on the glass safety barrier of the veranda next door.

Lo reports the incident to security but they don’t seem to believe her. They know that she had been drinking heavily the night before and saw that she was taking antidepressants. According to the ship’s management cabin 10 was empty. Realizing that security wasn’t taking her concerns seriously she tries to get anyone to listen to her. Someone else had to have seen the woman in cabin 10. She goes on to interview the staff, Mr. Richard Bullmer (the ship’s owner), and other passengers but everyone is reluctant to believe her since all of the passengers are accounted for. But how could this be? Lo knows that she borrowed mascara from the woman in cabin 10 and that she saw her belongings in the room. Unfortunately for Lo though, after having reported the apparent murder, Cabin 10 had been cleaned and there was no sign of anyone having stayed there.

I have to admit that I questioned Lo’s state of mind once she boarded the trip. I wasn’t sure if she experiencing PTSD from her own home invasion (which is totally understandable), whether or not she was an alcoholic since she had been drinking a lot since the invasion, or whether or not she was totally losing it.

Despite being warned on a couple of occasions to stop investigating into what happened to the missing woman, Lo continues to push on. Not only does the mascara, the only evidence proving that the mystery woman existed, go missing from her room, she is also warned to stop looking into the murder when she awakens from her spa treatment and sees the words STOP DIGGING written in the mist on the mirror.

To make matters even more complicated Lo’s ex, Ben is also on the ship and he appears to be hiding something. After doubting his innocence, Lo begins to wonder if he could have bee involved. Could he really have it in him to commit murder? Lo doesn’t trust anyone anymore, not even Ben. Everyone on board is a suspect.

Despite being warned, Lo continues on until she is hit over after chasing after what she thought was the woman in cabin 10. A little while later, she awakens to find herself locked in a tiny space without windows, well below sea level and realizes that no matter how loudly she screamed, no one would ever hear her. She realized that she should have listened. She should have let things go. What were they going to do with her now? Who were they?

Lo spends days in this claustrophobic space, only to realize that she is being held by the ship’s owner’s lover, Carrie. A woman who had been disguising herself as his sick wife Anne, during the trip, and who was responsible for throwing Anne’s body overboard. Turns out Richard Bullmer, was waiting for his wife to die so that he could inherit her fortune. To make matters worst, Richard brainwashed Carrie into believing that he loved her and to do his dirty work. After coming to this realization, Lo decides that her only way out of this alive is to convince Carrie to let her go otherwise Richard would kill her too. She had seen too much.

After being beaten, held captive for days, barely eating and left to wonder what will happen to her she manages to convince Carrie to let her go. Carrie devises an escape plan. The girls will exchange identities and try to make it seem convincing to Richard that Lo fought Carrie and managed to escape. Carrie insists that Lo must hit her hard on the head to make it believable. Lo tries but she’s unable to get herself to do it hard enough so Carrie does it herself. She throws her head into the bed railing causing a lot of blood loss. It’s at this time that Lo realizes the severity of the situation and that this poor girl would need help. Carrie tells Lo to leave her and run quickly because Richard would be returning shortly and run she does. Although Lo feels guilty for leaving Carrie behind, locked up and bleeding in the small cabin, she knows that she has no other choice if she wants to live.

After making a dramatic escape off the ship into the cold sea and ashore into a bed and breakfast Lo quickly realizes that the owners know Mr. and Mrs. Bullmer well and that they have notified the cruise ship of her arrival. Lo has no choice but to run again. She finally ends up crawling into a barn and, to her surprise, she falls asleep for a day and a half. Lucky for her, she is found by a nice old man and his dog who manage to finally bring her home to safety.

It isn’t quite clear how she makes it home but she does and both the break and enter and her experience on the cruise ship make her realize what is most important in her life. Being with her boyfriend and moving with him to New York to pursue both of their careers.

So, what did I think? Well, I give this book a 6.5/10. Although it kept my interest and I really wanted to know if Lo was having a mental breakdown or if there was really a woman in cabin 10, I didn’t love this book. There were a few captivating events but they weren’t enough to keep my attention. I also felt that I was being rushed through the main events and that they could have been explored a bit more. I did find it interesting how Ruth Ware incorporated Lo’s anxiety throughout this book. She successfully managed to make me understand what it feels like to have an anxiety attack. Lastly, I think she did a great job describing the solitude one would feel being held captive in a small space, alone, without a clock or any idea of who was keeping you hostage. This was very scary.

For those of you who have read this, please let me know what you thought of this book and if you have any suggestions for my next read I would love to hear them.

Talk soon,

Ash