a stranger in the house

21268160_10155451585333392_209012515_oA Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Tom Krupp comes home from work one night to discover his wife has left the house in a hurry, leaving the front door unlocked and her phone and purse behind.   He soon gets a call from the police that she has been in a car accident and is in the hospital with a concussion that has resulted in temporary amnesia.

Karen Krupp ran head on into a light pole after driving way too fast and erratically and has no idea how or why she did so. Soon we discover that there was also a murder the night of her accident and she becomes the prime suspect.

Tom wonders how well he really knows his wife after all. Does she really have amnesia? Could she possibly have murdered a person? Doubts start to cause cracks in their perfect marriage.

Karen also begins to doubt herself, her husband and her friends. By the book’s conclusion, buried secrets are reveled and there is a nice little plot twist at the end. I can’t say much more without giving away the book. You will wonder while reading who is telling the truth and what really happened that night. A good thriller, but not as good as Lapena’s first thriller, “Behind Closed Doors.”

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Ordinary Grace

21037855_10155394490383392_1273885445_o.jpgOrdinary Grace

by William Kent Krueger.

“For thirteen –year old Frank Drum, the preacher’s son, it was a grim summer in 1961 in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.” A coming of age story set among an unsettling Minnesota background.

Frank is growing up scrambling for meaning and full of confusion and fear. In the midst of that, a lot of frightening things happen that leave him in a constant state of apprehension. There are so many troubled characters in this book:

Jake is Frank’s younger brother. Jake is often quiet, especially outside of his home because he has a bad stutter: “I don’t like to talk to people because I’m afraid I’ll stutter and they’ll make fun of me. I feel like a freak sometimes.”   There is a lot more to Jake than his stutter. He also has a way of understanding things and seeing things others don’t notice.

Ariel is Frank and Jake’s older sister. Ariel is her parents golden child. Everyone believes she is destined for greatness. She is her mother’s favorite. Ariel is hope for mother’s unfulfilled longings. Jake and Frank adore her. She is their confidante, conspirator, defender, encourager, and supporter.  But is she as innocent as everyone thinks? Frank often catches her sneaking out late at night and he knows something isn’t quite right.

Their father, Nathan Drum, is a preacher. He is also a war vet and is clearly troubled by his past.  There are several other war vets in the book as well. Gus- his father’s friend, a drunk, who lives in the basement of the church. Nathan often says that he owes Gus his life, but we never find out why.

“There are a lot of men left troubled by the war. Every man handles in a different way the damage war did to him. Some men seem to have put their wars behind them easily enough.”

“Whatever cracks were already there the war forced apart, and what we might otherwise have kept inside came spilling out.”

“The truth is when you kill a man it doesn’t matter if he’s your enemy and if he’s trying to kill you. That moment of his death will eat at you for the rest of your life.  It’ll dig into bones so deep inside you that not even the hand of God is going to be able to pull it out, I don’t care how much you pray.”

Emile (Ariel’s piano instructor and Mrs. Drum’s dear friend) returned from World War II blind and disfigured and wanting to feed in isolation on the meat of his bitterness. He lives with his sister Lise who is also a bit of a recluse. Lise is mentally retarded and has no future that anyone could see. They are both two damaged souls that the rest of the family has pretty much abandoned.

The preacher’s wife and mother to Frank, Jake and Ariel is less than delighted with her life as a minister’s wife. She has a fondness for martinis and as things progress that summer, she becomes angrier and angrier at her husband for putting God before his family.

I had great expectations for this book and was a little disappointed that it didn’t quite live up to them. It was a little slow going at first, but once things start happening, I had just had to know how they ended. I hate that I had figured the book out before it ended, but not everyone will.  A literary mystery that isn’t that thrilling, but will really get to the heart of things.

“What is happiness? In my experience, it’s only a moment’s pause here and there on what is otherwise a long and difficult road. No one can be happy all the time.”

What did she know???

516Br4dPdRLWhat I know about “What she Knew”:

At the beginning of this book, Rachel Jenner lets her 8 year old son, Ben run ahead of her in the woods and he disappears.  I was a little disappointed with this one. I had read so many wonderful reviews, but the book did not live up to my expectations. The first 200 pages of the book really dragged.  I did consider a couple of times possibly not finishing, but a little over halfway into the book the pace picked up.  I never did figure out exactly, “what she knew.”  I am not a big reader or fan of mysterys or thrillers, nor do I have any children of my own to compare Rachel’s loss with, so maybe that’s why I just wasn’t that crazy about this one. Don’t let my review stop you from reading the book though, because plenty of other people out there just loved it!

 

Behind Closed Doors

51ms72awQiLAnother thriller that I could not put down. Grace meets Jack in the park one day and they fall madly in love. He seems so perfect: Handsome, charming, kind, wealthy and so accepting of Grace’s sister who has Down syndrome. The couple marries and then things start to change. Do they have the perfect marriage or not? What goes on behind closed doors? How well do we really know what goes on in other people’s private lives?? I couldn’t wait to pick up this book and find out what this psychopath was doing next! A little disturbing at times, but a very suspenseful read!

the good girl by mary kubica

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Mia Dennett, a 24 year old art teacher and daughter of a wealthy Chicago judge is kidnapped and taken to a secluded cabin by her abductor, Colin. When she returns home, three months later, she suffers from amnesia and a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The book alternates from the perspectives of Mia, her distraught mother (Eve) and the dedicated detective (Gabe) assigned to her case. The book switches back from past to present and it takes a little while to get used to it. You learn about Mia’s troubled past with her self absorbed father and a little about the other characters in the book as well.

 I can’t say a lot without giving away the book. I really enjoyed this one. One of the best thrillers I have read.  I could not turn the pages fast enough. I even cried a little.  The ending is a jaw dropping shocker and it really makes you revisit and re-examine everything you just read.

All the Missing Girls

71suVQyb5YL.jpgNicolette (Nic) travels back to her hometown in the mountains of NC to help her brother prepare their father’s home to be sold.  Soon after she arrives, a woman goes missing.  The missing woman stirs up lots of old feelings and memories from the time when her best friend Corinne went missing ten years ago.  So it begins and we have two mysteries of missing women to follow. Are their disappearances related? What really happened when Corinne went missing all those years ago?

All the Missing Girls was definitely a page turner. The more I read, the more I just had to know what happened to the missing girls! After we find out another woman is missing, the book goes back two weeks before and goes back each day until the current day. At first, I didn’t like this technique, but in the end it was necessary in order to reveal the mystery. This is the first book in a long time that I actually stayed up past my bedtime reading because I just had to find out what happened.

“Missing girls had a way of working their way into someone’s head.  You couldn’t help but see them in everyone-how temporary and fragile we might be.  One moment here, and the next, nothing more than a photo staring from a storefront window.”
“There is nothing more dangerous, nothing more powerful, nothing more necessary and essential for survival than the lies we tell ourselves.