Title: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 313 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even—yourself?
People are capable of almost anything. . .
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.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a suspense-laden mystery about a parents’ worst fear: a kidnapped child. In this case, the missing child is a six month old baby and the police uncover few leads which gives the novel an overwhelming sense of urgency as the search continues.
Anne and Marco Conti are, by all appearances, happily married and devoted to their baby Cora. They live in a rather affluent neighborhood and their home is beautifully and tastefully decorated. Marco is a self-made man who owns his own business and Anne is a stay at home mom to their daughter. With plans to go their next door neighbors Cynthia and Graham Stillwell’s home for a birthday party, they are dismayed by their sitter’s last minute cancellation. Anne offers to stay home to care for Cora, but Marco convinces her to attend the celebration. Armed with the baby monitor and taking turns checking in on Cora every thirty minutes, Anne and Marco are stunned when they return home to discover the front standing open and their baby is missing. What possible motive would anyone have to kidnap their daughter? Detective Rashbach is called in to investigate and he has quite a few theories about what happened but will any of them pan out?
Scratch below the surface and it is quickly obvious all is not perfect with Anne and Marco. Both are quite distraught about their daughter’s disappearance and while at first they present a united front, doubts soon begin to creep in. Following the birth of their daughter, their marriage has become strained and Anne is having trouble coping with a fussy baby and a lack of adult interaction. Marco’s business has fallen on very tough times and he feels helpless when trying to help Anne through her difficulties. Both are keeping secrets from the other and Anne becomes increasingly convinced her husband’s relationship with next door neighbor Cynthia might go beyond friendship. With the couple’s complicated family dynamics with Anne’s wealthy parents, Anne’s complex history and Marco’s growing desperation his business will fail, Anne and Marco grow suspicious of one another as days pass with no news about their missing baby.
Detective Rashbach senses Anne and Marco are holding something back and he is immediately convinced one or both of them might be involved in the kidnapping. His suspicions grow when they turn up little evidence in the house and he takes a much closer look at the baby’s parents. He uncovers possibly incriminating evidence but with nothing to support his theories, he is unable to leverage either of them into confessing. While it appears Rashbach is just going through the motions, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes that might just blow the case wide open.
By the midpoint of The Couple Next Door, the first major plot twist occurs and it becomes quite intriguing anticipating what is going to happen next. However this is just the first of many unexpected twists and turns and after a puzzling murder occurs, it is clear that things have spun out of control. The next major revelation is jaw-dropping but hold to your hat, because the wild ride is not quite over. Another shocking discovery is on the way and boy is it is humdinger. The denouement is convoluted yet easy to follow and Shari Lapena brings the novel to an absolutely stunning conclusion. All in all, a solid debut that mystery lovers will enjoy.