“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’d have the baby monitor and you’d 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?…”
“The Couple Next Door” is the debut novel from former lawyer / English teacher and now writer Shari Lapena. A book that has certainly divided critical opinion in terms of whether or not the plot is predictable etc., I suppose it might best be described as a psychological crime thriller.
Young married couple Anne and Marco Conti go to their next door neighbours’ one evening for dinner but leave their baby Cora at home asleep in her crib – taking a baby monitor next door in order to hear if she wakes and taking it in turns to pop back home and check on her every half hour.
Anne’s been suffering from postnatal depression and feels dowdy in comparison to her neighbour Cynthia – a situation made all the worse by Cynthia’s obvious flirting with Marco during the evening. When the couple finally head home they are distraught to find that Cora has vanished.
Naturally the police are soon involved and a ransom demand arrives. As the police investigation gathers pace we gradually find out more about Anne and Marco and their past and present secrets. Nothing is quite what it seems and it’s not until the final chapters of the story that all the pieces finally fall into place.
I mentioned the varied reviews earlier, and a number of reviewers seemed to find the story predictable and lightweight. Maybe I’m a bit thick but I didn’t see most of the twists coming. I’m not entirely convinced by the last few pages – it doesn’t leave you with a nice neat conclusion but, to be fair, does fit quite reasonably with the issues of the characters concerned and, after all, it’s not by book and the author can do whatever she chooses! Whilst on the subject of characters it’s worth noting that there isn’t really a single one that is particularly likeable which makes rooting for any of them less easy than it might have been.