A Stranger in the House
Goodreads ratings
3.65 / 5

"A Stranger in the House" Summary

By Shari Lapena

thriller | 305 pages | Published in NaN

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 DoorHe 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.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A woman's life is turned upside down when she wakes up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there, and as she tries to piece together the events leading up to her accident, she realizes that someone close to her might be hiding a dangerous secret.


In "A Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena, readers are taken on a thrilling journey filled with suspense, mystery, and unexpected twists. Lapena, known for her gripping psychological thrillers, once again delivers a captivating story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. With its well-developed characters and a plot full of intrigue, this novel is sure to satisfy fans of the genre.

Brief Synopsis

The story revolves around Karen and Tom Krupp, a seemingly happy married couple living in the quiet suburb of Willow Heights. One evening, Karen's life takes a dark turn when she is involved in a car accident and ends up with a head injury, causing her to lose her memory of the incident. Confused and disoriented, Karen returns home to find that things are not as they seem. She discovers that Tom has been keeping secrets from her, and a stranger's presence in their house raises even more questions.

As Karen tries to piece together her fragmented memory, she becomes increasingly suspicious of Tom's behavior. Meanwhile, Detective Rasbach, who is investigating the car accident, starts to dig deeper into the case and uncovers startling revelations. As the tension escalates, secrets are unraveled, and the truth behind the accident and the stranger's presence in their home is revealed.

Main Characters

Karen KruppProtagonist who suffers from memory loss after a car accident.
Tom KruppKaren's husband and a key figure in the unfolding mystery.
Detective RasbachInvestigating the car accident and the events surrounding it.
Brigid CruikshankA neighbor and friend of Karen and Tom, who becomes involved in the mystery.

Summary of Different Story Points

Chapters 1-5: The Accident and Memory Loss

Karen Krupp wakes up in the hospital after being involved in a car accident. She has no recollection of the incident and is confused about what happened. Detective Rasbach arrives to investigate the accident, but Karen's memory loss makes it difficult to provide any useful information.

Chapters 6-10: Secrets and Suspicion

As Karen returns home, she notices things out of place and becomes suspicious of her husband, Tom. She discovers a stranger's belongings in their house, raising questions about who this person is and why they were there. Tom seems evasive and defensive when confronted about the stranger's presence.

Chapters 11-15: Investigating the Stranger

Karen starts investigating the stranger's identity and finds connections to her husband's past. She suspects that Tom may be involved in something sinister and begins to question the true nature of their relationship. Detective Rasbach continues to dig deeper into the case, uncovering a web of lies and deceit.

Chapters 16-20: Unraveling the Truth

Karen's memory begins to return in fragments, revealing shocking secrets about the night of the accident. She confronts Tom, who finally confesses to his involvement in illegal activities. The stranger's presence in their house is explained, and the pieces of the puzzle start to come together.

Chapters 21-25: Confrontation and Resolution

Karen confronts Tom with the truth and decides to take matters into her own hands. With the help of Detective Rasbach, she devises a plan to bring the criminals to justice and protect herself. The final confrontation leads to a thrilling climax, where all loose ends are tied up and the truth is revealed.

Main Events

  1. Karen's car accident and memory loss.
  2. The discovery of a stranger's presence in Karen and Tom's house.
  3. Karen's investigation into the stranger's identity and her suspicions about Tom.
  4. Detective Rasbach uncovering hidden secrets and connections.
  5. Karen's memory returning and the revelation of Tom's involvement in illegal activities.
  6. The final confrontation with the criminals and the resolution of the mystery.

Themes and Insights

  • Trust and Deception: The novel explores the theme of trust in relationships and the consequences of deception. It raises questions about how well we truly know the people closest to us and the impact of secrets on a marriage.
  • Memory and Identity: Karen's memory loss challenges her sense of identity and forces her to question who she can trust. The story delves into the fragility of memory and the role it plays in shaping our perception of reality.
  • Consequences of Actions: The book highlights the far-reaching consequences of one's actions, as the characters' past choices come back to haunt them. It serves as a reminder that secrets and lies can have unintended and devastating effects.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Stranger in the House" is a gripping psychological thriller that keeps readers guessing until the very end. Lapena skillfully weaves a complex web of suspense and mystery, drawing readers into a world where nothing is as it seems. The well-developed characters and unpredictable plot twists make this novel a page-turner that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.


Shari Lapena's "A Stranger in the House" is a must-read for fans of psychological thrillers. With its intriguing plot, well-drawn characters, and themes of trust, deception, and memory, the book offers a captivating reading experience. Lapena's masterful storytelling keeps readers engrossed from start to finish, making it difficult to put the book down.

A Stranger in the House FAQ

  1. What is 'A Stranger in the House' about?

    A Stranger in the House is a psychological thriller about a woman named Karen who suffers from amnesia after a car accident. As she tries to piece together her memory, she realizes that there are dark secrets in her past and that someone is watching her every move.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Stranger in the House'?

    The author of 'A Stranger in the House' is Shari Lapena.

  3. Is 'A Stranger in the House' part of a series?

    No, 'A Stranger in the House' is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.

  4. What genre does 'A Stranger in the House' belong to?

    'A Stranger in the House' belongs to the genre of psychological thriller.

  5. Are there any trigger warnings for 'A Stranger in the House'?

    Yes, 'A Stranger in the House' contains themes of domestic violence and may be triggering for some readers.

  6. Is 'A Stranger in the House' suitable for young readers?

    'A Stranger in the House' is intended for mature audiences and may not be suitable for young readers due to its adult themes and content.

  7. Where can I purchase 'A Stranger in the House'?

    'A Stranger in the House' can be purchased online at various retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository. It is also available at local bookstores.

  8. Is there a movie adaptation of 'A Stranger in the House'?

    As of now, there is no movie adaptation of 'A Stranger in the House.'

  9. What is the page count of 'A Stranger in the House'?

    'A Stranger in the House' has a page count of approximately 320 pages.

  10. Can I read 'A Stranger in the House' without reading the author's other books?

    Yes, 'A Stranger in the House' can be enjoyed as a standalone novel without the need to read any of the author's other books.