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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Goodman's Newest a Shivery Spine-Tingler

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For three years, investigative reporter Joan Lurie has been working on an explosive story about the sexual misconduct of a powerful New York City publisher.  She knows there will be consequences for breaking the shocking news and she thinks she's prepared to deal with them.  What she couldn't have foreseen was a brutal attack on her person that leaves her traumatized, both physically and emotionally.  Utterly shaken, she retreats to the Refuge, an exclusive Manhattan apartment building that was once a Magdalen laundry.  The place boasts top-notch security that should have Joan feeling completely at ease.  So, why does she still feel unsafe?  Is she imagining that things in her apartment have been moved around on her?  Or is it just paranoia and frayed nerves, after effects of her attack?

Joan's not the only woman hiding inside the Refuge.  Lillian Day hasn't left the building in over seventy years, not since the day she witnessed a shocking event that left her just as traumatized as Joan.  

Then there's Melissa Osgood, who's reeling from her husband's betrayal and from a devastating reversal of fortune.  She blames Joan Lurie and will stop at nothing to take revenge on the woman who ruined her life.

As the lives of Joan, Lillian, and Melissa intersect, they will learn some startling truths about themselves, each other, and the dark history of the building in which they all live.  With danger still on Joan's tail, she has to find true refuge before it's too late...   

I'm a long-time fan of Carol Goodman's twisty Gothic thrillers, so I always get excited when she publishes a new book.  With its modern New York City setting (as opposed to the usual upstate locales) and its #MeToo movement premise, The Stranger Behind You—Goodman's newest—is a bit of a departure from her previous novels, but it's still a shivery, engrossing page-turner.  While I saw some of the plot surprises coming, others caught me off-guard, keeping the story interesting throughout.  Although there are definitely some elements of the tale that are illogical and far-fetched, overall I found it both compelling and satisfying.  Not all of the book's characters are likable, but Joan is appealing enough that I cared about her plight.  As with many of Goodman's books, my favorite aspect of The Stranger Behind You is the Gothic-y setting.  The creepy building at its center as well as the story's constant, unsettling vibe make the book an entertaining spine-tingler.  While this isn't my favorite of Goodman's thrillers, I enjoyed it overall.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, Someone's Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass, and The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a couple F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Stranger Behind You from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


  1. Very nice review. I like your rating system. "If it were a movie it would be rated....) That makes so much sense!

  2. I haven't read anything by this author, but it's always great when we find a tried and true novelist. Especially if we're a fan of the genre they write. I might have to look into their work further.

    Lovely review, Susan.

  3. I always try to read this author, although I missed a few. This is on my list but, her last book was not a favorite.

  4. I love Gothic thrillers but somehow have never read anything by this author! I'm adding her to my TBR.

  5. JenClair over at mentioned Magdalene Laundry asylums in her review of an entirely different book on Saturday. Weird how it's popping up all of a sudden. I usually really enjoy Carol Goodman books, but I haven't read this one yet. In fact, I don't think I read her prior one either. I'm always falling behind! ;D

  6. That's such an interesting concept to have an apartment building where people go to feel safe and, basically, hide from the world.


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