Book Review: A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena

Book Rating : 3 stars

It was solid enough and it’s clear the writer has a lawyer’s mind in building a case and going through details. 
The writing was flat, however, and though I somewhat connected with the characters, I didn’t find myself overly connected. 

The writing was very tell not show, and I found myself bored at times. If the writing were better, and the tension less on the investigation and more on the thriller aspect, the book could’ve been better. 

The ending I’m torn on. It’s a good twist in a way, but it was contrived. Very clearly the author’s attempt at a twist, which is a reasonable thing to want to do, but it was so obvious a twist, it was almost cheap. I think she could’ve laid out the ending better so that when it arrived with the twist, it wasn’t a rushed moment. 

There were other issues, like the stereotype of the ghetto neighborhood she goes to. Of course the boys who rob the body are presumably black. And of course they live in the ‘hood. 

Also I had issues with Karen being called a housewife. I was confused because I thought she had a job outside the house…doesn’t that NOT make her a housewife?

Overall, too much reliance on stereotypes. Characters were too flat. Even the investigators. 

What really bothered me was the writing itself though. Constantly explaining the characters’ emotions rather than showing me, and trying to end chapters with “sharp” or “dramatic” sentences that weren’t sharp or dramatic. It was overall writing that needs to be worked on. 

I want to say 2.5 stars, but I gave it 3. 

I believe this is the authors debut or one of her first works, so I’m sure she’ll improve over time. Solid attempt overall, though. 

Favorite quotes from A Stranger in the House:

“It’s almost like it used to be. But it’s nothing like it used to be.”

“One of her favourite things is to look out at the passing scenery as the train eats up the miles, and think and plan and dream. She likes to pretend that she could be going anywhere, be anyone. She’s always been tempted by the road not taken.” “It’s almost like it used to be. But it’s nothing like it used to be.”

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