The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Summary from NetGalley:
Even good people are drawn to do evil things…
Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend’s house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice—and killed him in cold blood.
Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends’ abductor force Rain to revisit memories she’s worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can’t Rain just let it go?
ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley for an honest review.
I was expecting this to be a bit more like Gone Girl then it ended up being. It started off with you just as clueless as Rain as to what was going on, but it was quickly revealed who was stalking her and who the killer was. Now this doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the book, I did, quite a bit actually. It just wasn’t exactly like I thought it was going to be. It was quite a riveting book, that was hard to put down, the characters were strong, although not very likable at times, and there were a few twists that were not totally expected.
The narrative switches between Rain and Hank. Both were very complex characters with that shared history of what happened to them as kids. I can’t say that I liked them exactly, but they were certainly interesting to spend some time with. They were both very emotionally scarred from that experience and it shows, even when they are pretending to be normal people. Hank’s character was perhaps a bit more interesting than Rain’s and his storyline was very well done. I don’t want to give too much away, but how he dealt with the trauma and the PTSD, was what made this book so interesting.
Rain’s need to be the perfect mother was interesting to see. Her struggles and guilt in trying to juggle her daughter and husband and a drive to investigate this story was very well done. I remember having very similar feelings when my son was young. Although Rain was not abducted like Hank and their friend was, she was no less traumatized by the experience of seeing what happened and being injured by the guy who did it. How she dealt with it and the PTSD was quite different from Hanks, she sort of walled it off and tried to forget the emotions.
I can’t really talk about the plot without spoiling it, but I will say that it is pretty well written even though it is a tad predictable. This is very much a story about the characters and how they managed what happened to them. I must say that there were a couple of twists that I was expecting until they almost happened. There was also a side story that was very well done and was intertwined with the whole plot, and that was very done. I almost enjoyed that more than Rain and Hank’s main story.
This was a very interesting psychological thriller that really looked at how trauma affects people. Very well written and certainly hard to put down. I will certainly be looking to read other books by this author.