Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The Stranger in Her House

The Stranger in Her House by John Marrs
2/13/24; 352 pages
Thomas & Mercer

The Stranger in Her House by John Marrs is a very highly recommended clever and twisty psychological thriller. Read this novel, especially if you enjoy psychological thrillers. The Stranger in Her House took me by surprise more than once and just got better with each new twist.

Fourteen months ago, following their move back to England, Gwen Wright's husband, Bill, passed. Gwen, who has vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s had no one to care for her until  Connie Wright left her career as a wedding planner in Italy to return to care for her mother,  Gwen. When a charity sends handsome handyman Paul around to the house to help clean gutters and trim back trees, Connie soon becomes suspicious of his intentions. Paul seems to be inserting himself into Gwen's life and pushing Connie out. No one wants to listen to Connie's concerns about Paul's encroachment in Gwen's life and even worse, Gwen is under his spell.

The writing is exceptional and clever in this intelligent psychological thriller. The narrative is divided into three parts and is mainly told through Connie's point-of-view with that of various other characters randomly mixed in. Mentally prepare yourself for some shocking major twists that will change everything, and yes, more than one occurs. There is going to be a standoff, but don't even try to predict an outcome as the tone of the plot becomes increasingly nebulous and dangerous.

Connie and Paul are fully realized, well-written characters who feel like real people. Eventually it becomes clear that they are really, really flawed, immoral people. Even the minor characters are portrayed as realistic characters, as their opinions and attitudes change with the rumors that are flying around. The increasingly devious actions of characters will keep you turning the pages as fast as you can.

The plot is complicated and the three parts of the novel are definitely three different huge turns in the narrative. Marrs starts the tension early on and then it just keeps rising with every page until the suspense and anxiety take over. Each twist adds a new dimension to the plot. The final denouement was absolutely stunning and brilliant.

Disclosure: My complimentary review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.

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