3.5 star, adult

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

This was my first experience with Lapena’s work and I have to say I am overall quite impressed. This thriller was truly filled with many twists that were well planned out and not too forced. I have to say that I was initially shocked when there was a dramatic reveal and I was only halfway through the book! Needless to say I could not predict the endless numbers of twists that always left me guessing.

The Couple Next Door is the story of Anna and Marco Conti and their baby, Cora, and the crime that happens while they are at dinner party at their neighbour’s house. This story is also told from the perspective of the detective who is in charge of the case. All the different perspectives are written in such a way that is meant to add more suspense and mystery – just who is the one telling the truth? Overall it was fairly well done, but I think this kind of style has its limits. I personally found some things to be less convincing (“mysterious”) because we already had the truth from a different perspective. Having these different point of views took a little bit away from the overall suspense, but certainly did not take away from the mystery shrouding the entire case.

Twist after twist, even though I saw some coming, more kept coming! I thought this was quite exciting. So for what the book lacked in overall chilling suspense (in my opinion, usually maximized by keeping to a single clouded main POV), it certainly made up for in overall craftsmanship of the story. I rapidly grew suspicious of most of the characters and wondered how everything would come undone in the end. There may have been some elements in the book that I found a bit extraneous, but I generally take fictional accounts with a grain of salt anyway – surely people do things they regret when they’re stressed. I think we can all relate to that at the moment.

I definitely enjoyed my experience reading this though. I was reading it so quickly, so desperate to find out the mystery and motivations behind it all that I definitely just flew through this novel. There seems to be some comments online indicating some problematic/unnecessary plot points and I think I tended to agree on a logical level. There were certainly aspects that I wouldn’t have put in there were it my choice. However, I respect the decisions that were made by the author, as I honestly did enjoy the book anyway, so I can’t really fault it on not being the paragon of believability.

I tend to take things at face value and try to enjoy the story as intended, and it usually goes alright for me – it takes some pretty jarring faux-pas to throw me off the wagon! I wouldn’t recommend this book for its suspense factor, but if you want to see a complicated, tied up plot unfold itself before your very eyes, this book may float your boat. Give it a try! I know I will be trying some more of this author’s work in the future, before I form any final judgments.

Overall Recommendations

The Couple Next Door involves the mystery behind a crime that is committed while parents are at a dinner party at the neighbour’s house. As the case is investigated, more and more truths about the past about everyone emerges, each adding more mystery to the case. Just what happened that night, and who is lying about it? Find out in this thriller mystery full of twists and turns all the way to the very last page! I enjoyed watching how the plot unfolded like a knot slowly untangling. This story was fairly light on the suspense aspect, so I wouldn’t recommend it for that. However if you’re just looking for a mystery with a constant series of twists, this may be the book for you!

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