Monday, September 16, 2019

The Stranger Inside

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger
Park Row Books: 9/17/19
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780778308720 

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger is a very highly recommended psychological thriller featuring survivors, murder, kidnapping, and vigilante justice.

Rain is currently a stay-at-home mom taking care of her one-year-old daughter, Lily. She left her career in journalism as radio news producer to do this, but the lure of her career is calling her back, especially when a man who escaped justice is found dead, in another case of a vigilante murder. This could be a serial killer at work, with the first case being the man who attacked Rain (Laraine) and kidnapped her two friends, Tess and Hank, when they were twelve. Tess never came home and Hank was held captive before he escaped. Their attacker spent years in a psychiatric facility and after his release he was killed by an unknown assailant.

Rain and Hank were both traumatized by the event, but Rain has tried to set her past aside and move on. Hank is a psychiatrist specializing in victims of trauma, but he realizes he is still suffering the consequences of his attack and abduction. This current case of a vigilante murder is the third known case and it brings back memories for Rain, especially because there are similarities between the three cases. Rain starts investigating her attack, looking for clues to tie the three cases together. 

The writing is excellent. Chapters tell the story through chapters presenting the point-of-view of Rain, 12-year old Laraine, and Hank. The opening chapter is through the mind of the vigilante, so this is a given fact at the start. You may think you know the whole story, but the suspense rises as the plot seems to indicate that something else, something horrible is going to happen.... and then there is a huge, unsuspected twist that changed the whole novel.

All the characters are extremely well developed and intricate as Unger explores their inner thoughts and motives. There is a mid-way point where it feels like the plot may have stalled out, but stay with the novel, note the details, and follow the story carefully.  As the narrative progresses and more information is revealed, the lines between being a survivor and victim, right and wrong, and crime and justice are blurred. The ending is explosive and shocking. This was a solid four rating until the end, when it soared to a five.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Park Row Books

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