Book Review: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

Cover art is copyright of St. Martin’s Press

I love a good mystery. I especially love a good mystery with an unreliable narrator who keeps me guessing through the whole book. Sure, it can be fun to uncover clues alongside the likes of Hercule Poirot and read about how his mind works and connects the dots of a case. But there is also something so fun about reading two different first-person versions of events and trying to figure out which to believe, if either of them. That was the case with Michele Campbell’s newest psychological thriller, A Stranger on the Beach, which releases this summer.

In A Stranger on the Beach, Campbell introduces two main characters. We meet Caroline Stark, a married woman in her 40’s with a daughter in college. We also meet Aidan Callahan, an attractive young bartender in his 20’s with a bit of a shady past. The story alternates between Caroline and Aidan’s points of view. We get two different versions of the same events and we have to try to figure out who is telling the truth:

Did Aidan and Caroline have just a fling or was it something more? Did Caroline ask Aidan to help her get revenge on her husband after she caught him lying to her or did Aidan do that out of his own love for Caroline? And what exactly happened out at that beach house that stormy night?

Campbell’s characters grapple with big questions like if people ever really change and if you can ever really trust someone again once they’ve broken your initial trust. Then, after an explosive climax of events, just as you think you’re going to find out who is telling the truth, a new mystery emerges along with some shocking revelations.

A Stranger on the Beach was my first of Campbell’s books, but it wasn’t my last (I’ve already picked up another!) Campbell has a gift for telling a story through multiple points of view. You get the same timeline of events but with totally different motives, actions, and outcomes. I loved that. Campbell’s alternating points of view kept me guessing and turning the pages. I couldn’t wait to find out who was telling the truth and who was lying.

A Stranger on the Beach is sexy, mysterious, and suspenseful with surprise after surprise. It was an awesome thriller, and I couldn’t put it down. This would make for the perfect beach or poolside read. Aidan’s bad boy image is sure to be a primary cause of beach and poolside swooning all summer long. Don’t go on vacation this summer without this book!

A Stranger on the Beach releases on July 23, 2019. I received an advance reader copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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