Book Review – The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


Pages: 344
Started reading: May 21
Finished reading: May 24

Synopsis

Anne and Marco have their baby daughter Cora asleep in her crib while they attend a party at their next door neighbours. They check on her regularly, but when they return home, they find that she is missing amid a set of curious circumstances.

The police are called in, led by Detective Rasbach. The suspicion soon falls towards the parents, and it emerges that they are both hiding secrets – not just from the police, but from each other. These secrets become front and centre of a complex and intricate mystery that sways back and forth, revealing deception and unfaithfulness.

Anne and Marco’s lives become more tormented as each day passes and they become increasingly desperate to find their daughter, as we find out what happened on the night she was abducted, and who was really behind it.

Review

This book has been on my TBR for months. I have seen that it is one of the most popular and highly recommended thrillers out there, so it was a relief to finally make a start on it this week.

And I devoured it. The Couple Next Door is such a page-turner, that I raced through it in just a matter of days. I was immediately gripped by the story, the characters, and the gradual piecing together of the mystery of who took Cora.

The opening of the book is almost guaranteed to make you become invested in the story. It is fast-paced, and the whole setup of the mystery is just perfect. From there, we have a plot that gets more and more interesting as we find out more about those involved.

What Lapena does brilliantly in her writing is give us a broad insight into the minds of the main characters, which at the same time makes for very easy and intuitive reading. She describes how they are feeling and what they thinking to the most minute detail, so it is almost a set of character portraits alongside a tense and absorbing plot.

For example, Anne and Marco both have their flaws, and they are portrayed expertly to create a high level of depth and context, which makes it so much more than a simple story of a child going missing.

We also get to see the point of view of Detective Rasbach, who I found to be a compelling character. He has a sharp and deductive mind  with a degree of compassion, and I really felt his presence on the page. His authority counteracted the relative naivety of the other characters.

There are a lot of twists, and many of them arrived at unexpected moments, which definitely caught me off guard. The big reveal came abruptly and surprisingly early, but after that, there were extra surprises that added to the intrigue and Anne and Marco uncover more of each other’s secrets.

The actions of the parents surprised me right to the very end, which really emphasised the fact that it is unwise to assume anything about them at any given moment, only that their desperation manifests itself into some very rash courses of action. The ending is a prime example!

So just to sum it up, this book is a very descriptive study of character, and the ongoing search for Cora and the suspicion surrounding the parents is right at the forefront. The uncovering of the mystery lacks a little and is slightly underwhelming, but the attention to detail, and the vivid and composite nature of the characters make it a memorable read that kept me turning the pages.

Themes

The story of The Couple Next Door  revolves around the abduction of a young child, so if this is likely to cause a negative response, it might be best to skip this book. There are also references to depression and self-harming.

Verdict

The moment I finished reading the first chapter of The Couple Next Door, I knew I would race through it. A compulsive read from start to finish with a quick pace and fascinating mystery.

I do feel it could have been resolved a little better and revealed some of the key details later on in the book, but overall it had me transfixed from start to finish. I shall give it a rating of four stars.

4 thoughts on “Book Review – The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

  1. Great review Stephen! I’ve had this on my TBR for ages! I’ve been steering clear of these types of reads for a while as I was finding them all a bit samey. But this one might possibly be on the horizon. It’s either this or The Marriage Pact. Decisions decisions! 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa! I am mostly reading thrillers at the moment and am finding it a difficult habit to get out of! I agree they do get a bit samey after a time, but the blurbs etc are always so intriguing! I recently reviewed My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay – that’s one you might like 🙂.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah I’ve seen that one on my Twitter feed and ummed and aahhed about it. I’m currently reading Why do Birds Suddenly Disappear, a totally different non-fic about, yep, you guessed, birdwatching!😂 I’m only a couple of chapters in, but it’s a breath of fresh air! I expect I’ll get back to the thrillers at some point tho, I do like the genre, I’ve just OD’ed on it a bit I think!

    Liked by 1 person

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