After reading ‘An Unwanted Guest’ by Shari Lapena, I was so excited to read more of her works that I immediately went ahead and ordered ‘The Couple Next Door’. I made sure to allocate some time during the weekend to start reading this one and even push some tbr books behind to make space for this one. Sure enough as soon as it arrived at my door, I made myself comfortable on the bed, with a cup of warm lemon tea by my side and started reading.
The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena
Edition: Hardcover, 308 pages
Publication Date: August 23rd 2016 by Pamela Dorman Books
Original Title The Couple Next Door ISBN0735221081 (ISBN13: 9780735221086)
A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors–a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.
This was a good thriller. Spoiler alert: I ended up rating it 3 stars overall.
That’s a pretty good rating, and according to my Star Rating Guide a 3-star rating means: “There are some things that could have been better” and it means exactly what you think it means. Let’s start with what I liked about ‘A Couple Next Door’, namely the interesting plot of the book. ‘The Couple Next Door’ is about married couple who decide to leave their newborn baby alone to attend their next door neighbour’s party. They will only be next door, and even plan on taking turns check on the baby every 30 minutes– nothing bad can happen, right?
When the couple arrives home, their baby is gone.
I bet you’re intrigued now, and I was too. The initial premise of this book was great. I love domestic thrillers where the conflict is rooted among a small group of people with interconnecting and complicated relationships— especially between intimate relationships because think of all the juicy secrets and lies that are bound to be exposed. (note: can you tell my real life is pretty mundane?). In this book, our main focus is on the married couple and it’s pretty clear very early on that there is already tension between them and that tension just builds up throughout the book that you as the reader start to wonder when it’ll eventually blow off. I did enjoy seeing the complexity of Anne and Marco’s marriage. They both seem rely on each other at first, but soon decide to turn on each other when secrets start coming out.
At the beginning, you really start to suspect one (or even both) of the parents because who else would have done it. The author introduces us to a very small number of characters and if you are like me, someone who actively tries to figure out the whodunnit it while reading, you start to zero in on the parents. However, this could also be because one of our perspectives is through the eyes of the lead detective of this case. Because we are seeing what he sees, and reading his thoughts, you could argue that the detective is an unreliable narrator. The detective’s point-of-view makes the delivery of the information really interesting because it’s all from an outsider’s perspective, however we as readers also get to see the mystery unravel through Anne and Marco’s eyes. As we piece together the clues we know some things that other characters don’t, so it’s a struggle to figure out which person to believe. I did enjoy the complexity of the characters and the complicated relationships among them.
However, there were some parts of the book where I felt like the story was unnecessarily slow and dragging out pointless scenes. Because of this it seems to have slowed down the thrill of this book, and instead of finding the missing baby it became more about how messed up some of the characters were. I kind of wished that the next door neighbours would play a bigger part of the mystery, instead of being there for the ‘affair-with-a-married-man trope’.
The missing baby plot itself wasn’t as exciting as ‘An Unwanted Guest’, and that could be because limited number of characters and with the main focus being on Anna and Marco. We do find out about halfway through the book who the initial perpetrator was, but in my opinion it really wasn’t a “twist” or a big shock.
I would recommend this book to fans of Shari Lapena’s work, or anyone looking for a domestic thriller novel. Even though this book isn’t my next favourite thriller book, I will still be reading more from Shari Lapena.
Have you read ‘The Couple Next Door’ or any of Shari Lapena’s other books? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments below!