REVIEW: THE STRANGER INSIDE, BY LISA UNGER

 

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?

My Thoughts: Alternating narrators tell the story of The Stranger Inside. We follow Hank, Lara (Rain), and Tess, from their childhood moments and beyond the tragedy of their young lives.

Hank’s perspective is interesting, in that he seemingly speaks to “Lara” as he tells his story, a chronicle of his adult life as a therapist in conflict with the dark part he hides inside. We watch as Rain combines marriage and motherhood while reclaiming a part of her story and her trauma as she resumes her career as a journalist.

What is the connection between their horrific past and the sudden murders of perpetrators around them? Are they involved somehow? As the story draws to a conclusion, there are still unanswered questions, and we wonder if the darkness ever subsides. A page turner that earned 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THOSE OTHER WOMEN, BY NICOLA MORIARTY

 

A laser look at the uneasy relationships between women and the real-world ramifications of online conflicts and social media hostilities in this stunning domestic drama. A story of privilege, unspoken rivalries, and small acts of vengeance with huge repercussions sure to please fans of Sarah Jio and Ruth Ware.

Overwhelmed at the office and reeling from betrayals involving the people she loves, Poppy feels as if her world has tipped sideways. Maybe her colleague, Annalise, is right—Poppy needs to let loose and blow off some steam. What better way to vent than social media?

With Annalise, she creates an invitation-only Facebook group that quickly takes off. Suddenly, Poppy feels like she’s back in control—until someone be-gins leaking the group’s private posts and stirring up a nasty backlash, shattering her confidence.

Feeling judged by disapproving female colleagues and her own disappointed children, Frankie, too, is careening towards the breaking point. She also knows something shocking about her boss—sensitive knowledge that is tearing her apart.

As things begin to slide disastrously, dangerously out of control, carefully concealed secrets and lies are exposed with devastating consequences—forcing these women to face painful truths about their lives and the things they do to survive.

 

My Thoughts: Poppy’s world crashes down around her as a result of a big betrayal. Afterwards, she is vulnerable to Annalise, a colleague who is encouraging her to change everything about her life. Together they attempt an experiment. They create the online group that will define their world for a while…and then everything begins to come apart.

Multiple narrators from opposing groups reveal the perspectives of the women. I liked how each of them had secrets and fought hard to protect them.

How would the conflicts begin to surface and change the nature of their groups and their lives?

A narrator writing letters anonymously is not revealed until the end. I thought I knew whose voice brought that part of the story, but as time passed, several possibilities presented themselves until finally, the hidden parts of all their lives came to light.

Those Other Women was an interesting story about how women, wanting support and comfort in others like them, found out how to meet their needs in kinder, gentler ways. 4 stars.

***