A Stranger on the Beach by Michelle Campbell, 3 Stars

Michelle Campbell has found a very secure place on my list of authors who release a book a year and the book is never a disappointment. Last year I reviewed She Was the Quiet One and I really loved it. It capitalized on two notoriously creepy things–twins and boarding school.

This year, she is releasing A Stranger on the Beach in July. Michelle Campbell has an interesting story. A graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law, she was a federal prosecutor of international narcotics and gang cases. But she left it all behind to live in a quaint New England town with her husband and two adorable children.

I’m totally picturing the Gilmore Girls’ town. And I’m not sure if her kids are adorable, it just seems to fit. But really, kind of a double life! I would expect her to write tense legal thrillers, but she appears to have left the courthouse behind in favor of just regular old thrillers. Still, she does a good a job at it. And I bet there’s more of a backstory there!

From the Publisher:

Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?

My Review:

A Stranger on the Beach started innocently enough. Caroline, a wealthy NYC woman who has just built her dream house on a beach as all those fancy New York types do, returns homes from a jog along the beach to find a gorgeous, albeit slightly creepy man just standing on the beach, staring intently at her house.

This is where the trouble begins. Campbell then switches back and forth between Caroline and Aiden’s perspectives and they both tell very different stories–in the style of The Affair.

Have you watched The Affair? Where the story is told from the point of view of two or more different characters and the circumstances never match up? Because they both have very different ideas of how the same day went down?

Love that show, BTW, but I kind of found it to be a little unbelievable at times. Some of the events would not be THAT wildly different. Unless these people are suffering from early onset Alzheimers.

For the most part, I enjoyed A Stranger on the Beach, but it becomes clear at some point that not only are both accounts very different, but someone is actually lying. And that didn’t quite work for me. Because as I saw it, the story was being told by that person, not to someone. So the lying didn’t fit. And it made the twist in the story less satisfying.

Still, just my opinion. I’ve noticed a lot of other reviewers totally loved it. So you’ll just have to read it to form your own opinion.

Special thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s press for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one releases July 23, 2019.

Preorder your copy!


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