Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door / Shari Lapena
Toronto: Doubleday, c2016
320 p.

This novel probably doesn't need any introduction to my readers as this point; it is on the top ten bestsellers lists in the UK, Canada, and the US. It's Lapena's first thriller, but third novel. (Her previous two novels, Things Go Flying and Happiness Economics, were both comic literary novels, both of which I really enjoyed, btw)

In this domestic suspense novel, we have a couple, Anne and Marco Conti, who leave their infant daughter Cora alone in the house while they go next door for dinner -- against Anne's instincts, but since they take the baby monitor with them, and check on her every half hour, they think it will be okay. 

It isn't. 

When Marco goes to check on her at 12:30, Cora is gone. 

As the investigation begins, they are all suspect. Secrets from Anne's past re-emerge; Marco's financial status is laid bare. Anne's family, who have never much liked Marco, take the chance to drive this home now that their granddaughter is missing. Lots of hateful and devious interchanges occur between them all, with their trust in the other eroding. Inspector Rasbach, experienced at these kind of things, knows they are hiding something. 

As the story spins ever faster, we learn so many things about all the characters that we can't be sure any of our suspicions or impressions are right, or even close. While eventually I did guess what must have happened, the final conclusion shocked and surprised me. But it was perfectly supported by what had come before. 

While this kind of read isn't my usual fare, it's obvious by its overwhelming reception that thriller readers are eating it up. I certainly read it in a rush, wanting to know what was going on. I did find the writing style quite choppy and fragmented, reflecting the content, I suppose. I always gravitate toward character and writing in my favourite books, and this one was definitely plot based -- different from her earlier work, but already very successful as a thriller.

So, if you like this genre, this is definitely a must-read. Best-seller lists everywhere agree ;)

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Further Reading

This novel fits in with the current craze for domestic suspense & spouses who don't really know what the other is up to. Any of these other top books in this genre would match the feel of this novel: The Widow by Fiona Barton, Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, or The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison.


4 comments:

  1. I just finished writing my review. I found the writing robotic so I know what you're saying about the choppiness.

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    1. Robotic is a good description. Really no flow in the narrative; such a different style than her first two books!

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  2. This was my Book of the Month Club selection for September. I will read it, but there have been so many thrillers released lately that I think I need to give this one some breathing room before I attempt to read it.

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  3. I've just picked this up from the library; I really enjoyed her last book, and I'm curious to see how different this one must be. *bites lip* Not sure what to think really, having heard some really great stuff but a little 'meh' as well.

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