A Stranger In The House, Shari Lapena, author: Tavia Gilbert, narrator.
Karen Krupp has married the man she believes is the love of her life, but she harbors a terrible secret. She has a past that she has told no one about. She has no former friends or relatives and appears to be entirely unencumbered by a past. Tom Krupp never thought he would find someone like Karen. He is amazed that she loves him in return. Both feel very lucky to have found each other. He is an accountant, with a stereotypical accountant’s restrained personality; however, he too, has a terrible secret that he is afraid to reveal to his wife. He once had an affair with a neighbor. She duped him into thinking their marriage was over. She and Tom have agreed to keep their former relationship a secret. Exposing it would only hurt both marriages. That neighbor has now become his wife’s best friend. Brigid Cruikshank is married to Bob. Bob runs a funeral home. Karen works part time for Bob. Brigid is alone a lot because of the nature of the funeral home business. He is out often, offering comfort to others. She has too much time on her hands to think about her sadness. She is lonely. She and Bob are unable to have a child, and she desperately wants one. Brigid has a successful knitting blog. Living directly across the street from Karen, she has a bird’s eye view into the goings on at the Krupp home. She is the quintessential voyeur. She gets vicarious pleasure out of the fantasies she creates in her mind. Actually, she appears to live within those fantasies. Often, she witnesses their body language and hurries over professing a deep interest in both of them. She always offers to help. She brings brownies, seems considerate and concerned for their welfare. When the solitude of Dogwood Lane is disrupted by the appearance of the police, lives begin to unravel. There had been a terrible car accident and Karen was severely injured. She claims to have no memory of her whereabouts the night of her accident. Amnesia is the doctor’s diagnosis. Karen has been told that it might resolve itself or it might not. Still, on that same night, in that same vicinity, there was a brutal murder of an unknown victim. Could Karen have been involved? The police believe that her amnesia might be a convenient deception. Soon, circumstantial evidence points in the direction of Karen, and she is arrested for murder. Those who are familiar with a movie called Gaslight, will see the similarity of the circumstances in the Krupp household. Strange things are happening in Karen’s home that she cannot explain. She notices things have moved slightly, almost as if to suggest someone has secretly been there. She is very frightened but cannot tell Tom why she is so afraid. Brigid notices her discomfort and offers her help, offers to listen to Karen’s problems. She is, after all, her friend. As the characters personalities begin to develop more fully and the mystery is resolved, the reader is tossed in one direction or another trying to figure out what is really going on. Secrets are revealed, but what seems apparent, often is not the reality. Who is Karen Krupp? Where has she come from? Is Brigid all that she claims to be? The story seemed a bit repetitive at times, as well as contrived and obvious, however, it will keep the reader engaged. Although the ending is a little disappointing, the story on the whole is worth reading. It is a good mystery, as it is a short, fast moving, page turner. Tavia Gilbert read the story well, clearly defining the characters emotional states at different times, but occasionally she over emoted and became distracting.