THE STRANGER INSIDE
By: Laura Benedict
Published: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Kimber has just returned home from a relaxing few days at a cabin. She feels refreshed and ready to get back to work. But, when she returns home, she finds that her key doesn’t work and someone else is living in her house. Her life is turned upside down and when she finds out why this person is in her house, she isn’t sure she can get him to leave and keep her secrets safe.
My book club had the opportunity to read this thanks to BookClubCookbook.com who sent copies for each of us to read. Each of us found the story gripping at the beginning, but then the more we learned about Kimber, the less we became interested in her story.
Kimber had some trauma happen while she was a teenager and that seems to have misdirected her whole life. She inherited this house from her estranged father and can’t understand if the person in her house is out to get her, has something to do with her father’s past or the people who owned the house before him. Thankfully her ex-husband works in the county assessor’s office, her former boyfriend is a lawyer, and her best friend has plenty of room to let her stay over until this is all straightened out.
As Kimber’s truths started to come out, I became less and less interested in the book. None of us in our book club liked Kimber. Personally, I have a hard time sticking with a book when the character(s) doesn’t have any redeeming qualities and Kimber certainly didn’t have any for me. With all the terrible things happening to Kimber, I felt like I needed to be rooting for her to make it through all this. Instead, I really wanted to give up on the book and on Kimber. Since it was a book club choice I kept reading, along with some skimming thrown in. Wanting the character to come out ahead and survive the traumatic situation is key to enjoying a suspenseful novel for me.
Laura Benedict does a great job of throwing in surprises throughout the story that keep you guessing. All of us were shocked by the ultimate twist at the end of the book so she certainly knows how to keep the story thrilling. But, unfortunately, all of us felt annoyed with Kimber and her poor choices, her vindictiveness, and the appearance of a lack of remorse for the choices she has made.
Fans that enjoy unreliable narrators, complex storylines, and well-developed characters will likely appreciate Benedict’s suspenseful novel. By the end of the novel, once the secrets are all revealed, Benedict did give Kimber some redeeming qualities and she seems to have learned from her mistakes. But, overall, I felt like she deserved some of what had happened to her.
This was not a favorite of our book club and we would be careful about who we would recommend it to. But, Benedict has a strong following of fans, and it may have been more about the style of book for us rather than the quality of the story. She does know how to write a shocking and suspenseful novel.
You can read the first chapter of THE STRANGER INSIDE, by clicking, HERE.
Laura Benedict is the Edgar and ITW Thriller Award-nominated author of six novels of dark suspense and numerous published short stories. Her short fiction has appeared in several magazines. A native of Cincinnati, she lives in Southern Illinois with her family.
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