The Stranger Inside

Laura Benedict. Mulholland, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-44492-7

Kimber Hannon, the narrator of this outstanding thriller from Benedict (the Bliss House series), returns home to St. Louis after four days in Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., to find that the key to her home doesn’t work. A neighbor tells Kimber that she, Kimber, rented the place to a guy named Lance Wilson six months ago. The police refuse to allow Kimber to enter her home after Lance shows a lease she signed. When Kimber accidently knocks him down, he whispers, “I was there. I saw what you did,” and then has her arrested for assault. Those words petrify Kimber, who believes they refer to the death of her sister, Michelle, more than 20 years earlier and the role Kimber may have played in it. The stakes rise when she believes that a nosy neighbor was murdered instead of dying in an accident as the police conclude. Kimber’s complicated personality and unusual family life drive the ever-twisting, surprise-filled plot. Angry and jealous as a child and teenager, and now a cold, prickly adult, Kimber is the epitome of the unreliable narrator. Readers will enjoy vicarious chills in her company. Agent: Susan Raihofer, David Black Agency. (Feb.)
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