Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
14th July 2016
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Pages: 302
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 3/5

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?

I really wanted to love Shari  Lapena’s debut novel The Couple Next Door, it had what I thought was a fantastic premise for a story and has received rave reviews all over social media but it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.
Anne and Marco Conti have been invited to their next door neighbours for a dinner party. At the last minute their babysitter for six month old Cora cancels on them. With strict instructions from neighbour Cynthia that the evening is to be a baby free zone. Marco and reluctantly Anne agree to leave baby Cora at home, take the baby-monitor with them and pop back every half an hour to check on her. The evening goes well and the couple become quite drunk and don’t return home till after one in the morning, where they find their front door open and baby Cora missing from her cot. The couple call the police and then we follow the police investigation as Detective Rasbach tries to uncover the kidnapper of baby Cora.
I loved the idea of this book as who really thinks it’s a good idea to leave a six month old alone in a house, nobody normal anyway. Well Marco and Anne are not normal, they are weak, selfish and stupid people who I had no sympathy for at all. Anne seems far too reliant on other people to make decisions for her, like calling her parents for help almost as soon as they called the police. I disliked Marco immensely, he seems to only be focused on making money and even though he dislikes his in-laws is only too happy to receive their money for his business and for buying his large house.
I was mad at Marco for suggesting the idea in the first place and even madder at Anne for agreeing with him, even though deep down she knew it was wrong. I felt she was such a weak character for not putting her baby first. Then they both get so drunk they’re not sure what time they checked on the baby and if they shut the door or not, just irresponsible parents which made me mad.
This did make the beginning quite good though as I was full of emotion, even if it was anger and was longing to know what had happened to Cora. As you keep reading though you realise you’re going to be slowly spoon fed every little point without any guesswork, which is not what I want from a psychological thriller, I want surprise and mystery and somethings only hinted at, there was very little of that as we’re told everything, even down to what each character is thinking.  It felt to me more like reading the police report of events rather than an actual novel. Halfway through we find out who the kidnapper is and to be honest I wasn’t surprised at all
This style of writing did make the novel quite intense as the paragraphs swap from character to character so often it does build up the confusion of what exactly is going on. This makes the novel quite a fast paced read and at times it did feel a little like information overload. I would much preferred if the novel was written in the first person from just one character’s point of view, perhaps as Anne as she seemed the most emotional and most concerned about the well-being of her baby once she was missing.
I was also confused by the setting of this book. We are told Anne and Marco live in New York which to me conjures up images of large townhouses and apartment blocks on busy streets. But when the police arrive at their house they have a nice long garden which backs onto a little lane not used by many cars, this seemed small English country village than a busy New York street. There was also mentions of lakes being a close drive away from their house which didn’t seem to fit.
I think the best part of the book was the twist right at the end which I didn’t see coming and left me with some questions which is what I was longing for all the way through the book. The Couple Next Door is a good read but it’s not a book which has blown me away like other books of this genre have this year. It’s a book which examines the relationship between Marco and Anne and makes you question what is really holding them together.
 I’d like to thank Transworld Digital and Netgalley for this review copy.  

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