The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena
You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.
Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.
Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.
Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.
You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.
What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?
When I started reading this page turning thriller, I had no idea that it would end how it did. Anne and Marco Conti attend a dinner party at their neighbours’ house and due to the babysitter cancelling, decide to leave their baby sleeping next door. There is little time for background in the first few chapters, and Lapena certainly doesn’t ease you in slowly, as the 6 month old Cora is kidnapped within the first few pages.
What proceeds is a complicated search for Cora and finding the truth behind her disappearance. Unlike most thrillers, we find out who the kidnapper is about half way through the book and the story that follows slowly unravels the truth. Saying much more about the plot would spoil the story but I can say that it kept surprising me and I was eager to return to the mystery each day.
I liked the story and the premise was good, the characters were well built and strong relationships between characters were presented. As intended, I hated father-in-law Richard and I had sympathy for Marco, the man who, in her parents eyes, could never be good enough for his wife Anne. I even liked stylish neighbours Cynthia and Graham with their quirky personalities and interests.
What I wasn’t so keen on was the style of writing. At times I felt the fast paced tone of the story was too much; it felt like a thought overload, like everything the characters were thinking was being written down in short choppy sentences which were thrown on the page with disregard to repetitive content. I understand that this style is likely to have been intended to represent the true thoughts of someone in Anne and Marco’s situation, but for just over 350 pages it was rather grating.
A messy few chapters towards the end of the book also let it down a little. I’m never a fan when things just conveniently fall into place.
Overall rating: A very readable, decent thriller about a couple who’s baby is kidnapped after being left alone in the house next door. Gripping, honest and twisted but unfortunately the writing style and conveniences towards the end knock a few stars off this one. I will be giving Shari Lapena‘s “The Couple Next Door” 3 stars.
See my other reviews of books by Shari Lapena here: