Title: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
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?
The Couple Next Door’s plot is like a spiderweb of lies, deceit and secrets. All of the characters seem to have something to hide and of course those things are going to be revealed, like they always are. Firstly lets talk about how the baby is taken, the parents Anne and Marco, leave baby Cora in their house whilst they go next door for dinner. They have their baby monitor so it should be ‘fine’. Obviously not, a stupid and frustrating decision on their part but hey this is how the story starts. The actual plot reminded me of the disappearance of Madeline McCann, a little girl who has been missing for 10 years. Her parents left her and her siblings in their hotel room sleeping when they went to have dinner with their friends. Madeline is said to have been taken and has been missing for 10 years now. So the plot of this book originally felt a lot like the real disappearance of Madeline, instead of course it was a baby.
The plot is what I would call Medium paced, its not fast or slow but just in the middle as the story develops and their is a lot of development as it progresses. The pace picks up at numerous moments during the book but most definitely the end. The very ending is something I want to discuss, I won’t reveal spoilers but it ends on a cliffhanger. I’m not sure if there is going to be a sequel to this book but for me the last events of the book could of not happened. I didn’t see it coming, it was a shock to say the least but I suppose there needs to be a sequel now? Ah i’m sorry for being so cryptic but I refuse to spoil it, those who have read it will understand.
I really enjoyed the story itself, I liked being thrown through the loop of suspects. I liked thinking I had worked out what happened to Baby Cora and then the next moment having the rug pulled out from under me. There is so much packed into this book in terms of suspects and possibilities of what happened to Baby Cora, revenge, foiled kidnapping, perhaps murder?
The characters of The Couple Next Door are interesting to say the least. They all seem to be hiding something and as the story progresses we are able to find out what their secrets are. Some of which I didn’t see coming at all. Anne especially was a very interesting character because she is a new mum dealing with postpartum depression but she also has another mental health issue. Occasionally Anne has ‘black out’ moments which meant she would have no idea what happened during that time she was ‘blacked out.’ This aspect was particularly interesting to explore because it has been kept a secret from Marco, only Anne and her mother know. So we get to question what happened in Anne’s past? What did she do and does she have the capability of being a murderer? We also very much question what her behaviour could have been like the night Cora went missing. Did she black out when she went to check on Cora? Did she accidentally kill her and then fake a kidnapping to hide the body? So many questions which my brain starting asking as I read on.
Shari Lapena most definitely writes some dimensional characters, the neighbors Cynthia and Graham themselves also have secrets to hide. To put it simply, they seemed weird to me and again I can’t mention their secrets as it would be such a big spoiler but it is through their characters I felt like the story lacked somewhat. Graham isn’t really present during the ending of the book, he is mentioned to be away on work so confrontations are only through Cynthia, Marco and Anne. I wish he was more present as I think it would have added to the conflict element.
Also I have to mention that whilst I found the characters, dimensional and interesting they were also pretty annoying. I’m all for revealing secrets to spice up the thrilling tension of a book but sometimes there are too many secrets. I looked at Marco’s character like did he tell his wife anything? He thought he was protecting her whilst she went through depression but they clearly lacked communication. It’s something I have seen many reviewers also mention, so much conflict and tension could have been resolved with communication. Of course the plot needs to continue, the story needs to be pushed but sometimes it gets to the point where it is so frustrating to hear characters interact, can they just talk a little? Explain their feelings, instead of sneaking around behind each others backs thinking it will be better the other not knowing.
The Couple Next Door was a 3.5 / 4 Star read for me. I enjoyed reading this book and I got through it so fast but having had a few days to think about it, I realized there was a few things that didn’t work for me such as Graham (the neighbour) being absent during the ending moments and the ending itself. I’ve not seen if there is a sequel coming so if there is, it would work out for me but the ending itself just felt like something else was thrown in there at the end to add up the thriller/ crime. Everything was resolved and then during the last few moments, BAM – new crime committed. Additionally to this there was too many secrets and lack of communication between all the characters. BUT I did like this read. I would definitely read the next book if there is one coming but if not I will be left confused over the chosen ending…
Have you read The Couple Next Door? Let me know your thoughts below or a recent Thriller read of yours!