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  • Writer's pictureJessica

Book Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

thriller mystery book next to blanket on couch

It’s Friday the 13th, and that means SPOOKY SEASON is here!

I’m getting ready for the cooler temperatures and fall/Halloween decorations by reading more thrillers and horror stories.

Thank you to publisher Park Row, who kindly sent me an advance review copy of The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger! I devoured this book in a few sittings and now I'm ready to talk about it. Without further ado, here’s my review.

Synopsis from the publisher:

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?

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them.

My thoughts: Well, my thriller/horror spree started off on the right foot with The Stranger Inside. I was hooked from the start. I think part of it was the atmosphere and characters Lisa Unger created from the very beginning. I’m a sucker for stories set in autumn, and she envisions the perfect fall setting right off the bat. Crisp air. Orange and red leaves crunching underfoot. Darkness setting in early, a chill if you stay outside too long. It’s deliciously spooky.

The Stranger Inside bounces back and forth between the two main character’s perspectives, and Unger does a fantastic job crafting very distinct, separate voices. Flashbacks from both characters also explain the crime at the heart of the story, upon which everything else in the plot is built. It sounds messy, and in another author’s hands it might have been, but it just added to the suspense and made me keep reading.

I’m trying to move away from giving half star ratings, and in the past, I may have given this a 4.5 because of one tiny detail that bothered me. The main character Rain often thinks about how women struggle with motherhood and maintaining a career or sense of self outside of that. It’s definitely a valid question, and it built her up as a character, but it came up so frequently in the book it started to distract me. She often comments on how behavior or expectations of men and women are different. I get it, but I don’t think the frequency of those thoughts was necessary to the story.

Overall, that was my only nitpicky thing, because The Stranger Inside is a solid thriller. I think a lot of true crime fans will like this, as well as fans of characters who have a unique brand of justice (e.g. Batman, Dexter, Daredevil, etc.)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Thank you again to Park Row books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!.

The Stranger Inside releases on September 17, 2019!

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