The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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I went a little outside my box of YA/Fantasy and picked up this thriller in the airport on my way home from Florida last month — I had it in my stack of TBR’s for January and finished it last night. I was both intrigued and a little *shook* as I was making my way through this novel. Here’s why: there were an alarming amount of exact similarities between my life and the main characters, Anne and Marco, in this book. None of them spoil the plot so it’s safe to keep reading.

  • Wife has an emergency c-section and has a baby girl
  • They live in a 19th century Italianate with marble fireplaces in the city
  • The husband is an entrepreneur
  • The husband rides motorcycles and owns a Ducati
  • Sprinkle in a tad bit of postpartum depression, a strained relationship once the baby comes and business troubles

So, as you can see, I was on the edge of my seat reading this with my eyes wide in bewilderment and sharing all the similarities with my kids dad like 0_0. There was even a point where Anne refers to her mom like “Hi, Mother” and I even call my own mom, Mother, from time to time and I’ve been told it’s so odd haha. So anyway, all of that aside, this was definitely suspenseful, chock FULL of twists and turns and kept me guessing until the very end.

I do want to put a disclaimer though–one I wish I’d had before I decided on this book. If you’re a new parent or just super emotional in things dealing with children *raises hand way up high because I’m still a new mom*, just know that the main plot of this novel deals with the kidnapping of a baby. I wasn’t all that far in when I seriously contemplated shelving the book because I really didn’t want to deal with anything remotely distressing involving a baby. My emotions are on level 100 ever since I had my own and I know I couldn’t handle it. However— I found that the content consistently stayed just below what I feel I could tolerate and never got to such a point that I was too upset to continue reading.

***

Anne and Marco are having a rough time settling into parenthood. Anne has slipped intoimg_1622 mild postpartum depression–feeling constantly inadequate and unsuited for motherhood. Her husband is finding it difficult to help her cope and navigating how best to support her all while having his own financial woes that he feels he can’t burden her with. Anne’s wealthy parents have never cared for Marco, they feel that she’s married someone who isn’t good enough for her, and so he cannot even look to them for comfort or support in this trying time. In effort to help Anne find some happiness–to give her a bit of a break, Marco persuades her to attend a dinner party at their neighbors house next door. Their baby sitter cancels last minute but Marco is insistent that they still go, leave their daughter home asleep and check on her ever half hour. They’ve also got the baby monitor with them so he assures her that it will all be fine and she agrees–after all, they’re just right next door. At the end of the evening, they go home to find that the front door is left slightly ajar. In an instant panic, they rush upstairs to find that their daughter is missing from her crib. They frantically search the house and she is nowhere to be found. They call the police and a search ensues for their baby girl.

Soon, they are contacted via mail by the kidnapper who requests 5 million dollars cash as ransom. Anne’s parents put up the money without question and Marco is tasked with meeting the kidnappers to exchange the ransom for his daughter. But when he gets to the meeting spot, he finds an empty infant seat where his daughter should be and is struck in the head from behind. When he comes to, the money is gone and his daughter is nowhere in sight. He’s been set up. As more fear and desperation set in, Marco is frantic trying to figure out how he can get his daughter back. But who on earth has her? Where is she?

***

If thrillers or crime novels are your thing, you will love this book. The story is told from each main characters point of view and alternates throughout the novel which gives you a really complete perspective from all angles. I thought that Shari Lapena’s writing style flowed well and was especially descriptive and I would definitely read more of her work. She certainly knows how to keep her readers in suspense and guessing for the duration of the novel. After finishing this book, I thought what an amazing movie it would make. Sort of on the same level of suspense as Gone Girl (I only saw the movie–haven’t read the book…yet) or The Girl on the Train (of which I’ve read and watched–the book is 100x better than the movie by the way). It’s a solid five stars from me for this one. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone in search of a thriller.

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