Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I didn’t know anything about the plot of The Couple Next Door when I picked it up. If I had done, I would not have read it. And that would have been a huge mistake as it is a BRILLIANT thriller. You see, this book centres around a baby being kidnapped…

I have two little boys so if I ever come across a plot summary that involves danger to children, I tend not to read the book – it’s just something way too scary to even contemplate for me. On reflection – that is perhaps why I had such a visceral reaction to The Couple Next Door: although my heart was in my mouth, I just couldn’t stop reading it.

Opening sentence: Anne can feel the acid churning in her stomach and creeping up her throat; her head is swimming.

My worst nightmare

Set in an affluent suburb of New York, Anne and Marco Conti are invited to their next door neighbours’, Cynthia and Graham’s for an intimate dinner party. They make the (unforgivable, in my opinion) decision to leave their 6-month old daughter Cora at home ALONE in her cot. They bring the baby monitor and check on her every half hour. However, when they return home, they find the front door open and their baby gone…

Never fear, there is a highly competent sleuth on the case, Detective Rasbach. He suspects that Anne’s multi-millionaire parents might have been a reason the baby was kidnapped (for the ransom money) and, despite their alibi, knows that parents are always high on the suspect list, not to mention the secrets the neighbours are harbouring …

Rasbach will figure it out. The truth is there. It’s always there. It simply needs to be uncovered.

I love an unreliable narrator

Then the game of who is guilty begins. And what a game! The structure wasn’t quite what I was expecting and neither was the outcome. You have an idea about a character and then they throw you a curve-ball – unreliable to both us and themselves. The best kind.

I really enjoyed how key characters made revelations sooner than you might expect, but this just adds to the tension as your mind flips from ‘who did it’ to ‘how did they do it’, which is a clever, engaging gear change.

When I finished reading, my first thought was that The Couple Next Door would make an excellent Netflix series and it has actually been optioned for TV – so watch this space! What I mean by that is it has sort of episodic updates to the perfectly paced plot, so every few chapters a new surprise element is dropped in and you are obsessed with discovering what is actually going on.

Also, if you’re going through any kind of reading slump, this is the psychological thriller to snap you right out of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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