Book Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Following the fantastic Sometimes I Lie, I was very excited to pick up The Couple Next Door.  I think I read them in the wrong order- because there was just no way The Couple Next Door was going to have as many twists and turns as Sometimes I Lie.

It was still pretty good though! Once again, I read it all within one 24 hour period.  I think the structure of thrillers works well for me.  A good thriller should move at a quick pace, and these two books in particular had short punchy chapters, which I love.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Rating:  ★★★

Blurb (from GoodReads): 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.

The author wasted no time getting to the heart of the issue.  Anne and Marco’s babysitter cancels on them at the last minute.  They decide to go to the dinner party anyway, being that it’s right next door, and bring the baby monitor so they can listen for their daughter. Sometime between 12:30 AM and 1:30 AM their daughter is snatched from her crib.  Detective Rasbach immediately suspects that the couple is involved, because that’s how most of these cases go.

That’s as much as I’ll say because I don’t want to spoil anything.  I think a lot of the suspense was lost on me, because somewhere along the line, I read a spoiler for the book.  I thought it was on the book jacket, but looking back I see that it wasn’t.  I’m thinking it must have been in a review and I didn’t realize at the time it was a spoiler.

Anyway- as the secrets start to unravel, there are plenty of them, but I don’t feel like any of them were particularly shocking.  I don’t want to say this story has been told before, but if you’ve ever watched Law & Order you probably won’t have much trouble guessing where it was going.  I had the crux of it pegged early on (and not because I read the spoiler, which wasn’t unrelated, but had nothing to do with the whodunnit).

I did feel that Detective Rasbach’s POV was a little unnecessary.  He doesn’t reveal much that couldn’t have been relayed via dialogue with the other characters, and in fact, most of the relevant aspects of his POV are.  He’s largely absent from the middle of the book, and only makes a brief appearance again at the end.

The writing was fine.  It was a little clunky and awkward in a couple places but not enough to detract from my enjoyment from the book.  I also feel that the title is misleading.  The couple next door plays a very small role in the book, and they didn’t feel entirely relevant.

All in all- not a bad read at all if thrillers are your thing, but I’m also not chomping at the bit to recommend it to anyone.

The Couple Next Door can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

 

 

B&N Memorial Day Sale Book Haul

For Mother’s Day, my tiny human gifted me with books, via a gift card and her wonderful grandmother!  I hadn’t spent it because I was waiting for something I really, really wanted to buy, but then the Memorial Day sale popped up in my email and Barnes & Noble was offering an additional 20% off on top of sales… so I ended up getting five really good sounding books I hadn’t known I wanted.

 

Redemption Road by John HartRedemption Road by John Hart: This book looks as if it follows a few different characters and perhaps the general narrative of a whole town, which is the kind of story I love when it’s done well.  The blurb clues you into some dramatic sounding narratives: a boy plans to take revenge, a good cop gets out of prison, a body found on the steps of an abandoned church.. If Hart ties all these narratives together I think it could be amazing.  I did read the first few chapters, and it seemed like maybe it was turning into a mystery rather than the “literary thriller” it promised, but I remain optimistic.  It has a 4+ rating on GoodReads with a significant amount of reviews, so that’s usually a good sign.

The Couple Next Door by Shari LapenaThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena: I remember in 2016 when this book came out, I was seeing it everywhere.  I’ve been a little burnt out on my usual fare lately, so I figured I’d give a try.  It’s about a couple who attends a dinner party next door and leaves their child sleeping alone in their apartment.  They check on her every half hour- but when they come home. She’s gone.  The question is, whodunnit?  I read the first few chapters of this too- the writing is nothing fancy, but it’s not bad.  The action kicks off right away with a brief glimpse of the dinner party and the couple next door, before Anne and Marco return home to find their daughter missing.  Detective Rasbach immediately suspects the Conti’s, meanwhile, the reader is hoping he’s wrong.

The Dead Lands by Benjamin PercyThe Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy: This is the only science fiction purchase I made.  It caught my eye because I’d never heard of either the author or the book before.  I feel pretty well versed in the SFF genre- maybe not because I’ve read widely, but I’m pretty well aware of any releases in the past few years.  This has a decent number of reviews, but the overall rating is pretty low at 3.44.  Usually that’s a good reason for me not to put it on my TBR let alone buy it, but the blurb gave me serious Fallout vibes so I had to go for it.  It’s about an outpost set up on the ruins of St. Louis called the Sanctuary, and a rider coming in from the wastelands to bring them to a place where civilization is thriving.  Fingers crossed it’s better than a 3 star read for me.

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon: This is historical fiction based on The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhonthe true story of the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in New York in 1930.  I love all things Depression era.  The speakeasies, the organized crime, the cars, the clothes, the style, the music, the influx of Italian and Irish immigrants trying to live the American dream.. I think no matter what angle you take, this time period presents an opportunity to tell some amazing stories.  But mostly I’m excited for a trifecta of lying, cheating, maybe murderous women plotting (what I suspect is) the perfect revenge.  I took a peek at the first few pages, and the writing is absolutely perfect for this time period, moody and yet elegant.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice FeeneySometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney: This book has got one of the best hooks I’ve seen in a long time:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

I sat down to read the first couple chapters and ended up reading the whole book.  It’s a twisty turny insane ride.  Is it far fetched?  Yeah.  Do I care?  Nope.  Full review up soon!