From Amazon: The Stranger Inside

After mystery author Diane Christie loses her husband to suicide, she and her son move to the small coastal town of Fog Harbor, Massachusetts. Her daughter is attending college nearby, and Diane hopes that her family can now begin to heal. But rebuilding their lives after the tragedy isn’t so simple.

Diane’s depressed college-age daughter, Alexa, still avoids her, critical of everything Diane does, and even her generally amiable teenage son, Josh, has started acting out. Diane pushes forward, focusing on her writing and her volunteer work at a local crisis hotline. She knows that healing takes time.

But then a girl from Alexa’s college is found strangled. Worse still, the murderer uses the crisis hotline to confess to Diane . . . and claims she is the only one who can stop the killing. And just when the glow of new love from an attractive admirer begins to chase away some of the darkness, more girls turn up dead, and Diane races to solve a mystery she fears will hit terrifyingly close to home.

Warning

Don’t read the last paragraph of that blurb, it’s bullshit. I mean, yes, a girl is found strangled and ok, there is an attractive admirer, but that’s it. The caller never admits or confesses to anything and Diane might be a mystery writer but she’s too busy dealing with her mentally unhinged daughter to actually try to solve the mystery. Her main goal in this book is getting her daughter to not hate her and to come live with her when someone starts killing college girls.

Alexa. Alexa. Alexa. She is the worst character I’ve read in a really long time. She legitimately struggles with some mental health issues, but she seethes with jealousy and hatred toward her mother. Even going so far as to lean down while her mother sleeps in the bed and tell her twice, “I hate you.” This girl is 18 or 19 years old! She acts like a 13-year-old.

Some of her behaviors can certainly be considered symptoms of her mental state. She steals her mother’s sleeping pills, her wine, she rarely showers, never attends classes, and she has a very brief fling with a guy ten years older than her who was flirting with Diane at the beginning of the book. All of this is a lot of information to have about a character that could disappear from the book and only make minor plot adjustments necessary. The son, Josh, is a much better child to and for Diane. Until he isn’t.

Major spoilers here, folks. There were three things that gave away the killer by page 37.

  1. The book is called The Stranger Inside.
  2. The killer comments to the reader, something about people on campus assuming he’s college age.
  3. He talks about feeding his goldfish.

Then, right when you’re ready for the big reveal, the author tells the reader who the killer is before Diane figures it out. Just moments before, but still! Diane is going through her son’s room and takes notice of his goldfish. Duh! After which she goes through his phone and finds pictures of dead girls which is always a fun time. (sarcasm, of course)

The Ending, holy cow, the ending. Let me break it down for you and then freak out about it.

Diane discovers Josh is the killer. Josh apologizes profusely and then shoots himself in the head. He’s taken to the hospital because he magically survives the incident and bratty Alexa finds his suicide note which, when the hell did he have time to write that? Alexa realizes that Josh is the killer and it snaps her entirely out of her stupidity and she approaches her mother about stealing Josh from the hospital and going into hiding for.. well, ever. Get this, because she says her life will finally mean something. And. Diane. Agrees. They actually do it! They steal Diane’s adopted son who has murdered women from his hospital bed and escape. There are not enough W’s, T’s, or F’s for this. And the whole time both of these looney chicks are whispering sweet nothings into the ear of this killer like, ‘We’ll never let you hurt anyone again’ and ‘I promise to keep you safe.’

So Diane and Alexa do a 180-degree turn in a flash and decide being fugitives sounds like a great idea. But conveniently enough, Diane’s new beau is obsessed with living off the grid so I’m sure everything will be fine.

Thank you for reading and watching!

Red