The Couple Next Door, a review by Joanna

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The Couple Next Door

Shari Lapena

344 pages

Published 2016

Bantam Press


This is a 2016 domestic suspense thriller that became a bestseller, riding the wave of “psychological” novels about unpleasant, unreliable, angsty middle class couples that followed Gone Girl. I’ve been avoiding them for a couple of years, after overdosing on missing children, abusive husbands and amnesia plotlines, but then I found this on the unread shelf, and it had good reviews, so I decided to give it a go. Well, much like the airport size block of Toblerone that I finished in two sittings, (don’t tell my husband) I devoured this within 24 hours, even knowing it’s not that good, then felt mildly nauseous and regretful afterwards.

Anne and Marco go to a dinner party at their neighbours’, leaving their six month old baby Cora asleep at home, because glamorous hostess Cynthia doesn’t want a fussy infant spoiling their drunken fun. Despite taking a baby monitor and checking on her every thirty minutes, when they get home, Cora is missing. As the days pass and there’s no word from the kidnapper, and the police have few leads, the couple fall apart – who has taken their precious child – and why?
I’m not sure I the reader is meant to sympathise with depressed, neurotic Anne: her husband flirts with the neighbour, her parents disapprove of her life choices, she apparently has no friends, and she abandoned her career to be a stay-at-home mother. All her problems would’ve been avoided had she got a kitten or puppy instead of a baby! Meanwhile Marco is an idiot. He seems to love his wife, but he loves the trappings of marrying into a wealthy family more – who buys a new Audi when they’re struggling financially? This only has a limited cast of characters, so the suspect pool is small, and the twists therefore felt more obvious than they should’ve. Still, I kept reading to find out if I was right, and what would happen, so 3 stars, and a note to self to continue avoiding this genre – and Toblerone!

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