Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

review by Maryom

When their babysitter cancels at the last minute, Anne and Marco decide, after an argument, that it will be fine to go round to their neighbours for a dinner party as planned - after all, the houses are joined, they'll be able to take the baby monitor and nip back every half hour to check up on baby Cora ... surely nothing could go wrong?

When Anne and Marco return home the front door is open, and their baby gone. At first, guided by what Anna and Marco appear to be thinking, the reader is led to believe that Cora must have been taken by someone who broke into the house, but then the police arrive, and Detective Rasbach's cynical assessment of the situation and detailing of all the ways parents could kill and dispose of a baby, made me stop and wonder if perhaps Anne and Marco weren't to be trusted all that much....

A thriller tapping in on what must surely be any parent's worst nightmare, The Couple Next Door is a gripping, fairly quick read at just over 300 pages. I found it started rather slowly, setting up the scene, calling in the police etc, but after 50 pages or so the drama kicks off, and then I really, really wanted to see how it all ended, so finished it in a day!
Although told in the third person, the reader is still presented with the 'face' that the characters display in public, and their secrets and motivations are only revealed as the plot twists and turns its way to a resolution - and what secrets they're all hiding! Anne's post-natal depression hides a more serious underlying condition; Marco might not have been quite honest about his relationship with their attractive neighbour, Cynthia; and she, too, has a secret or two hidden away ...
To be honest, I didn't feel the characters had much depth - yes, they're all hiding something, but not deep character flaws, the revelation of which would change who they fundamentally are, and a lot is said of Anne and Marco's shock and grief but I didn't feel it. I don't think it really mattered though, because this is a plot-driven story, leading my suspicions first one way, then another, and keeping me guessing till the end.

Maryom's review - 4 stars 
Publisher - 
Bantam Press
Genre - 
adult, crime, thriller

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