Book Title and Author: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger
Publication Date and Publisher: September 17, 2019 by Park Row
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 384 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: September 14, 2019 (papercopy via publisher)
PEOPLE Best Books of Fall 2019
“A darkly thrilling tale of survival and obsession. Lisa Unger never disappoints.” —Riley Sager, bestselling author of Lock Every Door
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.
The Stranger Inside is an intricately layered psychological thriller that will keep you riveted from start to finish. It’s a story of survival, the impact of survivor’s guilt, and the lingering impact of childhood trauma and violence at the hands of a monster. The book is absorbing, suspenseful, and utterly compelling. More than anything, it will leave you questioning what exactly is justice in the face of evil and does evil deserve their fates.
Rain Winter is a survivor of a monstrous, nightmare crime that at age 12 took the life of her best friend Tess and forever changed her other best friend Hank when it was she, not them who was the intended victim. Yet, it seems she’s put all that behind her now that she’s happily married and a stay at home mom to one year old Lily.
But after hearing of the murder of a man who walked free after being charged with the brutal murder of his pregnant wife, Rain’s investigative journalist instincts kick in and the desire to be back at work wars with her desire to be at home, especially after she finds out from her dark web sources that the man was killed exactly the same way as his wife.
When Rain’s instincts about the murder go into overdrive, something else inside her awakens as she remembers similarities to other murders-possible revenge killings against criminals who walked away free. Is there a serial killer/avenger on the lose? If so, what is the connection with Rain and why does she now feel compelled to finally investigate Eugene Kreskey, her would-be kidnapper and tell her story, the one no one knows is hers since she’s since changed her name.
The story unfolds precisely in well-written and alternating chapters by Rain and the killer, one whose identity you find out almost immediately, which I found interesting but it plays such a huge part of the story that the knowing was integral to the plot and in understanding the character’s motivations.
The story is told so expertly and vividly that it is both shocking and thrilling as Rain delves deeper into the story, her past, and finally exposes the rage and guilt she’d locked away from her childhood trauma. She may have been a survivor, but Unger exposes the very real damage of trauma and survivor’s guilt.
The ending was about as twisted as they come, and I loved it. Unger has written a fabulously fastpaced suspense novel that I highly recommend for any thriller or suspense lover.
~This was a Traveling Sisters Read and we’re still talking about this one!! You can read their fantastic review here.~
**Thank you, Rachel Haller, at Park Row Books/Harlequin Books for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.**