A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the House

by Shari Lapena


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A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Look out for Shari Lapena’s new thriller, AN UNWANTED GUEST, available soon.

“Smart and suspenseful. . . you'll never see the ending coming.” --PureWow

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say,
Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, Glad to be home.

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There's a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes.  Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. 

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won't stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735221130
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/29/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 6,303
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. Her suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, as well as her second novel, A Stranger in the House, were New York Times and international bestsellers. Lapena’s next book, An Unwanted Guest, is forthcoming in summer 2018.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

On this hot August night, Tom Krupp parks his car–a leased Lexus–in the driveway of his handsome two-story home. The house, complete with a two-car garage, is set behind a generous lawn and framed with beautiful old trees. To the right of the driveway, a flagstone path crosses in front of the porch, with steps leading up to a solid wooden door in the middle of the house. To the right of the front door is a large picture window the width of the living room.

The house sits on a gently curving street that ends in a cul-de-sac. The surrounding houses are all equally attractive and well maintained, and relatively similar. People who live here are successful and settled; everyone's a little bit smug.

This quiet, prosperous suburb in upstate New York, populated with mostly professional couples and their families, seems oblivious to the problems of the small city that surrounds it, oblivious to the problems of the larger world, as if the American dream has continued to live on here, smooth and unruffled.

But the untroubled setting does not match Tom's current state of mind. He cuts the lights and the engine and sits uneasily for a moment in the dark, despising himself.

Then, with a start, he notices that his wife's car is not in its usual place in the driveway. He automatically checks his watch: 9:20. He wonders if he's forgotten something. Was she going out? He can't remember her mentioning anything, but he's been so busy lately. Maybe she just went out to run an errand and will be back any minute. She's left the lights on; they give the house a welcoming glow.

He gets out of the car into the summer night–it smells of freshly mown grass–swallowing his disappointment. He wanted, rather fervently, to see his wife. He stands for a moment, his hand on the roof of the car, and looks across the street. Then he grabs his briefcase and suit jacket from the passenger seat and tiredly closes the car door. He walks along the path, up the front steps, and opens the door. Something is wrong. He holds his breath.

Tom stands completely still in the doorway, his hand resting on the knob. At first he doesn't know what's bothering him. Then he realizes what it is. The door wasn't locked. That in itself isn't unusual-most nights he comes home and opens the door and walks right in, because most nights Karen's home, waiting for him. But she's gone out with her car and forgotten to lock the door. That's very odd for his wife, who's a stickler about locking the doors. He slowly lets out his breath. Maybe she was in a rush and forgot.

His eyes quickly take in the living room, a serene rectangle of pale gray and white. It's perfectly quiet; there's obviously no one home. She left the lights on, so she must not have gone out for long. Maybe she went to get some milk. There will probably be a note for him. He tosses his keys onto the small table by the front door and heads straight for the kitchen at the back of the house. He's starving. He wonders if she's already eaten or whether she's been waiting for him.

It's obvious that she's been preparing their supper. A salad is almost finished; she has stopped slicing mid-tomato. He looks at the wooden cutting board, at the tomato and the sharp knife lying beside it. There's pasta on the granite counter, ready to be cooked, a large pot of water on the stainless steel gas stove. The stove is off and the water in the pot is cold; he dips a finger in to check. He scans the refrigerator door for a note-there's nothing written on the whiteboard for him. He frowns. He pulls his cell phone out of his pants pocket and checks to see if there's any message from her that he might have missed. Nothing. Now he's mildly annoyed. She might have told him.

Tom opens the door to the refrigerator and stands there for a minute, staring sightlessly at its contents, then grabs an imported beer and decides to start the pasta. He's sure she'll be home any minute. He looks around curiously to see what they might have run out of. They have milk, bread, pasta sauce, wine, parmesan cheese. He checks the bathroom-there's plenty of toilet paper. He can't think of anything else that might be urgent. While he waits for the water to come to a boil, he calls her cell, but she doesn't pick up.

Fifteen minutes later, the pasta is ready, but there is no sign of his wife. Tom leaves the pasta in the strainer in the sink, turns off the burner under the pot of tomato sauce, and wanders restlessly into the living room, his hunger forgotten. He looks out the large picture window across the lawn to the street beyond. Where the hell is she? He's starting to get anxious now. He calls her cell again and hears a faint vibration coming from behind him. He whips his head toward the sound and sees her cell phone, vibrating against the back of the sofa. Shit. She forgot her phone. How can he reach her now?

He starts looking around the house for clues as to where she might have gone. Upstairs, in their bedroom, he's surprised to find her bag sitting on her bedside table. He opens it with clumsy fingers, faintly guilty about going through his wife's purse. It feels private. But this is an emergency. He dumps the contents onto the middle of their neatly made bed. Her wallet is there, her change purse, lipstick, pen, a tissue packet-it's all there. Not an errand then. Maybe she stepped out to help a friend? An emergency of some kind? Still, she would have taken her purse with her if she was driving the car. And wouldn't she have called him by now if she could? She could borrow someone else's phone. It's not like her to be thoughtless.

Tom sits on the edge of the bed, quietly unraveling. His heart is beating too fast. Something is wrong. He thinks that maybe he should call the police. He considers how that might go. My wife went out and I don't know where she is. She left without her phone and her purse. She forgot to lock the door. It's completely unlike her. They probably won't take him seriously if she's been gone such a short time. He hasn't seen any sign of a struggle. Nothing is out of place.

Suddenly he gets up off the bed and rapidly searches the entire house. But he finds nothing alarming–no phone knocked off the hook, no broken window, no smear of blood on the floor. Even so, he's breathing as anxiously as if he had.

He hesitates. Perhaps the police will think they've had an argument. It won't matter if he tells them there was no argument, if he tells them they almost never argue. That theirs is an almost perfect marriage.

Instead of calling the police, he runs back into the kitchen, where Karen keeps a list of phone numbers, and starts calling her friends.


Looking at the wreckage in front of him, Officer Kirton shakes his head in resignation. People and cars. He's seen things to make his stomach empty itself on the spot. It wasn't that bad this time.

There'd been no identification on the crash victim, a woman, probably early thirties. No purse, no wallet. But the vehicle registration and insurance had been in the glove compartment. The car is registered to a Karen Krupp, at 24 Dogwood Drive. She'll have some explaining to do. And some charges to face. For now, she's been taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital.

As far as he can figure, and according to witnesses, she was traveling like a bat out of hell. She ran a red light and smashed the red Honda Civic right into a pole. It's a miracle no one else was hurt.

She was probably high, Kirton thinks. They would get a tox screen on her.

He wonders if the car was stolen. Easy enough to find out.

Thing was, she didn't look like a car thief or a druggie. She looked like a housewife. As far as he could tell through all that blood.


Tom Krupp has called the people he knows Karen sees most often. If they don't know where she might be, then he isn't waiting any longer. He's calling the police.

His hand trembles as he picks up the phone again. He feels sick with fear.

A voice comes on the line, "911. Where's your emergency?"

As soon as he opens the door and sees the cop on his doorstep, his face serious, Tom knows something very bad has happened. He is filled with a nauseating dread.

"I'm Officer Fleming," the cop says, showing his badge. "May I come in?" he asks respectfully, in a low voice.

"You got here fast," Tom says. "I just called 911 a few minutes ago." He feels as if he might be going into shock.

"I'm not here because of a 911 call," the officer says.

Tom leads him into the living room and collapses onto the large white sofa as if his legs have given out, not looking at the officer's face. He wants to delay the moment of truth for as long as possible.

But that moment has come. He finds that he can hardly breathe.

"Put your head down," Officer Fleming says, and places his hand gently on Tom's shoulder.

Tom leans his head toward his lap, feeling like he's going to pass out. He fears that his world is coming to an end. After a moment he looks up. He has no idea what's coming next, but he knows it can't be good.

Customer Reviews

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A Stranger in the House 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great beach book. Good twists and turns especially the ending. It was unexpected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast and easy to read; surprise ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as great as The Couple Next Door, slightly more predictable but still a great read with unexpeted twists
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to love this book but I didn't.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you liked Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, you will like this book! Fast paced, great characters, lots of twists in the story. Keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't expect that ending!
Anonymous 3 months ago
I have not picked up a book ib thw
Anonymous 4 months ago
Initially did not appreciate writing style, but plot more than kept me engaged. Eventually realized underlying logic. Conclusion totally unexpected & unpredictable. Great suspense author. Ann Hulyo
Anonymous 5 months ago
This could’ve been a really good book. However there was no background character development, and frankly I didn’t care about single one of the characters. The story itself was decent but overall it was a disappointment.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Quick read. Good if you have nothing better at the moment. Personally I found all of the characters unlikable and unrealistic.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Kept your attention. Great book.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Excellent read keeps your attention
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a lot of twist and turns. I really, really enjoyed this book. I can't wait until her next book comes out in August!! I also enjoyed the Couple Next Door!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good.
xokristim More than 1 year ago
As with all thrillers and suspense novels that I’ve enjoyed this one had short chapters. I love when each chapter ends on a little cliff hanger, so you feel like you just have to continue. Also, the prologue in a thriller is extremely important to me, and wow this one did a great job. I was immediately wondering what happened to make all this action happen. I will say that I wish the chapters officially switched point of views (maybe starts with each persons name at the beginning) instead of jumping into the story. None of the characters were trustworthy, I think the author did a great job of making that perfectly clear. I did like each one in their own way though. I thought the twists were interesting, maybe not very believable, but they definitely kept me interested. Overall I would call this novel a solid thriller. I loved the cover, it really captures your eyes and makes you wonder. There were plenty of twists and turns. I liked that the main character had amnesia after her accident but the author wasn’t too repetitive with things. If you are looking for a quick thrilling read, you can find it with this book.
tommygrrl723 More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. I thought that the story line moved along very well and the premise kept my interest throughout its entirety. The twists weren't extremely predictable, but I was still able figure some out. Still, this book is worth the read. The ending, which in my opinion, can make or break a book, was extremely satisfying. I haven't read this author's previous book, but based off of how much I like this book, I think I may have to order it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved every page! Definitely worth the time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Constant twists. Highly recommend- definately worth the purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I literally could not stop reading or thinking about reading this book! I loved the frantic tone that gave me the feeling of being on edge and the super quick pace. Never a boring moment. I carried this book around with me just in case I had a few minutes to get a few pages in! Tom and Karen have a picture perfect life. The are newlyweds with a beautiful home and Tom is a successful accountant. That is until Karen's accident, she has crashed her car into a pole and has no idea why she was frantically speeding through a seedy neighborhood! She is taken to the hospital and now has a concussion and can't remember what or why she was there. The police have questions for her. Hmm..... "If someone has to go to jail--well, that's the way the cookie crumbles." What??!! Karen is a very detailed person and while she is home recuperating from her injuries, she begins to notice things in her home are misplaced. She knows she didn't leave a glass on the counter. She would never have left her stopper off her perfume and one afternoon she sees the outline of a body on top of her bed. Has someone been laying in her bed??!! Twists galore and some fast turning of pages. I always wanted to get back to reading this one! Lots of fun, quick read, highly entertaining! But that is just my opinion! Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good , like the twist at the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom and Karen Krupp live in a nice home, in a great neighborhood in New York. Tom has arrived home from work late to find his wife not at home and the door unlocked. Supper has been started but not complete. Karen also left her phone and her purse at home. Where has she gone? Then Tom gets a call that Karen has been injured in a car crash where she ran stop lights and hit a utility pole. Luckily, she has only a concussion, but it has left her with no memory of the accident and just before. Out of the hospital, Karen finds herself charged with reckless driving and she and Tom hire an attorney. Back home, things happen that make Karen sure that someone has been in her house. Her neighbor, Brigid Cruikshank is her good friend who supports her. Karen has been working as a bookkeeper at the Cruikshank Funeral Home. When a man’s body is found in the same general area where Karen’s accident occurred, the police start checking to see if the incidents are related. He had been shot three times. It appears that evidence shows her at the place where the body was found just before her accident. Who is this man and what possible reason would Karen have to kill someone? What can she do to get out of this? This story builds well and the author keeps us wondering what truly happened up until the very end of the book. The characters were well-created and the book keeps the reader’s interest. I enjoyed the author’s first book, “The Couple Next Door,” and look forward to more books from her.
Kaits_Bookshelf More than 1 year ago
I read Shari Lapena’s debut thriller last year, The Couple Next Door, and I loved it! So you can imagine my excitement over her new book, A Stranger in the House, as well as my disappointment when it just didn’t live up to her first novel. I had high hopes for this book going into it. The bar had been set high with The Couple Next Door. But unfortunately, A Stranger in the House was far from the thriller I had hoped for. The story was nothing original – a woman running from her past, an obsessed ex-lover, a marriage full of secrets, etc. Basically, I felt like I had already read this story dozens of times. There were a couple of surprise “twists” at the end, however, one really wasn’t that much of a shock and the other was very predictable. In fact, I had even said out loud to myself during the book, “I bet such and such happens…” and in fact, it did. If you really want to read a good mystery/ thriller, you should check out Lapena’s previous release, The Couple Next Door. That one kept me guessing all the way through. Hopefully her next one will live up to her first one. Read full review at: KaitsBookshelf.com