The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena, Penguin
The story: it’s every parent’s worst nightmare – Anne and Marco’s six month-old baby daughter disappears from her bed. When their babysitter cancels at the last minute Marco persuades Anne to leave baby Cora sleeping while they go next door for a grown-up evening with friends, bringing a baby monitor with them and checking on her every half hour. Who could have taken her and why? And will they get her back?
My review: I bought this in paperback a year ago and am so pleased to have finally got round to reading it. It’s certainly a compelling story and for the first half at least I found it very convincing. It’s told in the present tense and from different third person viewpoints as it follows the investigation closely so we get to see each person’s thoughts and reactions and the detective’s theories. Secrets are gradually revealed about characters, their relationships and their past which add to the complexity of the case.
I didn’t find the second half so plausible but it kept me turning the pages anyway. The kidnapper’s identity was revealed quite early (although there is more to be revealed) which made some of the investigation seem redundant but it was interesting to see how people reacted to questions and also how they started to question themselves and others around them.
It’s not impossible to believe someone could make the decision this kidnapper did – I remember a similar case in real life but that situation was different in a way I thought quite crucial. I found myself questioning whether this particular character would have really have acted in the way they did with the other person involved, given their personal circumstances and connections.
I can’t say any more without giving spoilers and in any case you might feel differently. None of this stops The Couple Next Door from being a rollicking read which kept me up late into the night so if you’re a fan of domestic noir I’d definitely recommend it.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️