Title: A Stranger in the Family: A Novel of Suspense
Author: Robert Barnard
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Rating: 4 out of 5
Kip was adopted by a loving family at the tender age of three. On her deathbed, Kip’s mother reveals the identity of Kip’s birth family. Naturally, he pursues this lead, curious about their circumstances and what brought them to give him up for adoption. Once he makes contact with his birth mother, Kip is shocked to discover that he was abducted from that family. Faced with this information, Kip begins digging into his past to understand exactly what happened to him as a child.
Robert Barnard’s A Stranger in the Family is an excellent novel, full of suspense but not exactly your standard mystery/thriller. Barnard’s writing style is much too literary for that classification, and while I’d hesitate to call it literary fiction, it definitely doesn’t belong with the mass market paperback mysteries. It’s a tightly written novel; Barnard certainly doesn’t mince words, which is how he packs such a complicated story into a sub-300 page book.
Kip was certainly an interesting character. Anyone could understand what was spurring him on – after all, he had nothing to lose by pursuing the secrets of his abduction/adoption since both of his adoptive parents were dead. There isn’t a lot of character development in the book, as the focus is on Kip’s search, but he seems to be a bright young man who certainly is resourceful. He also comes across as a bit brusque. A few times, I was surprised by his short responses to perfectly friendly people. While it does give the reader some insight into his personality (he likely doesn’t care for small talk), it doesn’t necessarily reflect well on him.
I really appreciated the twists and turns that Barnard wrote into A Stranger in the Family. The book ended up in a place I completely didn’t expect, which I loved. It was a lot of fun to read, and I liked that Kip was smart enough to understand how the all the disparate threads tied together.
A Stranger in the Family is a fun read and great if you’re looking for something quick. It doesn’t take a long time, especially since readers will race through it to discover the answers to the multiple puzzles presented in the novel, but it’s definitely worthwhile and I’m glad I read it. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Barnard’s future works.