Skip to main content

A Stranger at the Door


A Stranger at the Door

“Had Linklater known the date and manner of his death, he would have tried to squeeze as much happiness into his relatively short life as possible before it was taken from him with an unimaginable amount of pain and terror.”

What Jason Pinter has in store for the unfortunate Matthew Linklater in A STRANGER AT THE DOOR is one of the most horrific deaths you will read in quite a while. A social studies teacher by day and a lonely, single man by night, Linklater teaches Eric, the son of protagonist Rachel Marin. Just prior to his tragic end, he sends Rachel a cryptic email to uncover something bad that he is witnessing at his school. He then hears a knock on his door and lets in someone he knows. Unfortunately for him, that person is accompanied by a stranger who immediately strikes him in the head repeatedly with a wrench.

"A STRANGER AT THE DOOR is a solid read, and Rachel Marin is tough to root against even when she frustrates at every turn by often becoming her own worst enemy."

Rachel, who assists the Ashby Police Department with investigative and forensic work, hears the details of Linklater’s death along with the rest of the team. Even though he and his place were burned down, a cavity was found in his lower abdomen. It represents the spot where a caged rat was placed, open end down, upon him. Once that cage felt the heat, the rat ate its way out through Linklater’s body. This all took place while he was still alive, an old-school way of sending a message to any other “rats.”

The bad business that Linklater was looking to report involved a bunch of high school students being caught up with a possible criminal enterprise and some unsavory characters. The person calling the shots asks the school bully, Benjamin Ruddock, to approach Eric and see if they can tempt him into joining their game. They see Rachel as a direct threat, so coming after her son could provide much-needed leverage against her --- especially since her boyfriend, John Serrano, is a key member of the Ashby P.D.

Those familiar with Rachel from last year’s critically acclaimed HIDE AWAY recognize that death and disaster seem to follow her wherever she goes. Years earlier, when her husband had been brutally murdered, she picked up her two children, changed their names, and moved to the relatively quiet, suburban town of Ashby, IL. But everyone knows you can’t run away from your troubles, and the past does come back to haunt Rachel in the form of a woman named Myra, now going by “Evie.”

Evie was a self-defense instructor with whom Rachel, then known as “Blondie” to her, got caught up. A particularly violent episode was the impetus for Rachel and her family leaving town. Now, she wants to know how this woman is standing on her doorstep in Ashby. Meanwhile, Eric has taken the bait and sneaks out of his house for a 1am meeting with a group of other students at the local baseball stadium. There, they meet up with Bennett Brice, a rich businessman who is seeking to use their services. When Evie pops up again and seemingly knows all about Rachel’s concerns with Eric’s new late-night rendezvous, it makes her wonder what role she is playing in this game.

Rachel is not a person to be taken lightly and often acts without thinking. When she confronts Brice in his office, she has no idea what target she is painting on her own back. Brice is in league with some bad people, and Rachel seems to be losing her son completely to them. There are still many surprises to come, which will include finding out the truth about Evie as well as the identity of the person who knocked on Linklater’s door that fateful night.

A STRANGER AT THE DOOR is a solid read, and Rachel Marin is tough to root against even when she frustrates at every turn by often becoming her own worst enemy. The bottom line for her is the safety of her family, which makes her tactical mistakes understandable.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 15, 2021

A Stranger at the Door
by Jason Pinter

  • Publication Date: January 12, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • ISBN-10: 1542005949
  • ISBN-13: 9781542005944