Book Review · Books

The Couple Next Door by Shari LaPena

Synopsis

“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.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Review

*light spoilers ahead*

The Couple Next Door is a book I had been wanting to read for a while. I remember when not a day went by at the library that this book wasn’t checked out or requested for a hold. Now that I’ve read it, I can certainly see why!

This was a very fast read for me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it initially (more on that below) but by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. The bulk of the story was fast-paced with not a lot of moving parts, so it was easy to follow. By the end things got more complicated and sped up even more. I didn’t quite guess the ending but I also wasn’t surprised entirely by what happened, either.

I usually don’t go for books written in present tense. I prefer the third-person, past tense point of view of the unnamed narrator. Something about those sentences that start with “She sits…” or “He takes…” just don’t sit well with me for whatever reason.

But in the case of The Couple Next Door, it worked because the story was happening in “real time” and there was a sense of urgency because of the kidnapping. I thought the present tense would be annoying but I ended up not noticing it very much.

As for the story itself, I really liked that we got the perspective of the lead detective in Cora’s disappearance, Detective Rasbach. Without that, I wouldn’t have caught on to some of the nuances between Anna and Marco, both separately and when they were together. Even before they started to show strange behavior, the detective is already mentally preparing for the possibility of the parent’s having been behind it, based on his years of experience in investigating missing children. This automatically put the reader on the fence as to whether or not Anna and Marco are innocent.

This was a five star read for me up until the final pages. I was so satisfied with the ending and then what happened with Anna was such a let down. I already felt bad for her during the entire book since she had to hide her depression and was questioning her own mental state and what she could have done to the baby without realizing it.

She was torturing herself with unknowns while her husband had no idea what she was going through. Just when she was put in the clear, and basically told that she wasn’t crazy after all, that ending virtually erased it and put her back into that box. I think a more impactful ending would have been if Anna’s mom had gone to visit the neighbor and then she had been the one to have a blackout moment, showing that the behavior ran in the family or something to that effect.

It really was a bummer that the ending didn’t sit well with me, but I think a lot of readers will enjoy it either way. For whatever reason, I just didn’t care for it.

I still thought this was a great fast-paced read which was what I was looking for, and I would be open to reading more of Shari LaPena’s books in the future.

Goodreads rating: Four stars

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