In this tautly crafted tale of psychological suspense, a recently widowed mother resorts to the unthinkable to protect her shattered family. But does she go too far?
After mystery author Diane Christie loses her husband to suicide, she and her son move to the small coastal town of Fog Harbor, Massachusetts. Her daughter is attending college nearby, and Diane hopes that her family can now begin to heal. But rebuilding their lives after the tragedy isn’t so simple.
Diane’s depressed college-age daughter, Alexa, still avoids her, critical of everything Diane does, and even her generally amiable teenage son, Josh, has started acting out. Diane pushes forward, focusing on her writing and her volunteer work at a local crisis hotline. She knows that healing takes time.
But then a girl from Alexa’s college is found strangled. Worse still, the murderer uses the crisis hotline to confess to Diane . . . and claims she is the only one who can stop the killing. And just when the glow of new love from an attractive admirer begins to chase away some of the darkness, more girls turn up dead, and Diane races to solve a mystery she fears will hit terrifyingly close to home.
Having loved Never Smile at Strangers, I was looking forward to The Stranger Inside. Although, overall this was a good read, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. As with Never Smile at Strangers, this is very much a character led story, which I love, but I didn’t connect with the characters as well this time, and I didn’t find the story quite as fast paced and tense.
This story focuses on a family consisting of a mother and her two teenage children. Diane’s 16 year old son, Josh is reasonably well behaved, whereas her 19 year old daughter, Alexa comes with a lot of anger and attitude. Surrounding this family saga, there is another storyline running through the book of a killer who is going around murdering young women. I suspected various characters of murder, including the person it ended up being.
Covering sensitive topics such as murder, depression and suicide, there were emotional parts to this story.
Although I found the beginning a little slow, I actually read the second half of the book in one sitting, needing to know what was going to happen. I would say the last third of the book is much faster paced and exciting. However, if I’m completely honest, the ending didn’t work for me. It felt too rushed and unrealistic for me to get my head around, as if the main characters I’d been following for the last few days had transformed into completely different people and taken leave of their senses. I needed longer to absorb the outcome, and I felt the characters did too.
Whether you enjoyed this book or not, I recommend giving Never Smile at Strangers a go, as it is a fast-paced and rather dark murder mystery suspense thriller. I bought Ugly Young Thing, which is the second book in the stranger series, so I’m looking forward to reading that at some point too.
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