Book Review: The Couple Next Door

Book Review: The Couple Next Door

This review will actually discuss things that happened in the book, spoilers if you will, because I don’t understand how you can give an actual review without mentioning and discussing what actually happened.  I’ve read lots of “reviews” of the book and they all say the same thing.  That it was so shocking, that they couldn’t stop reading it, and other variations of that sort.  I think the closest thing I read to an actual review was the person who wrote that even though the ending was shocking, it made no sense because there was no reason for it to happen, which I agree with.

The book starts out with Anne and Marco Conti at the house of their next door neighbors, Cynthia and her husband Graham, for dinner.  The childless by choice Cynthia made it a strictly no children dinner party, which meant that Anne and Marco had to leave their 4 month old daughter, Cora, at home.  Originally they were supposed to have a baby sitter, but the sitter canceled at the last minute because her grandmother died.  Anne, who had been feeling depressed since giving birth, and even more so around beautiful and vivacious Cynthia, wanted to stay home but Marco convinced her to go to the party.  They figured since they were right next door, had a baby monitor, and would check on Cora every half hour, that everything would be fine.  Obviously they were wrong.  They come home to find Cora has been kidnapped and that’s when the story picks up speed and doesn’t stop until the end.

Of course they are considered the primary suspects by the police.  The detectives dig into every aspect of their lives, all the while Anne is blaming Marco for convincing her to go to the party, Anne’s rich mother and stepfather (who never liked Marco because they thought he was beneath them) are right there consoling Anne and freezing Marco out, and things start coming out about how Anne and Marco may not have been as happy as they seemed.

book club, book review, kidnapping, mystery, Shari Lapena, The Couple Next Door, thriller

For most of the book I was really hoping Anne and Marco could get through this and that Cora would be safe.  It turns out that Cynthia and Graham (who like to do the partner swapping thing while the other watches) had a hidden camera in their yard for their little trysts, and it just happened to catch Marco undoing the motion detector in his house and handing Cora off to some guy who drove off with her.  That bastard!  Meanwhile Anne had been freaking out, wondering if in her depressed state she had done something she couldn’t remember (mostly because the police kept hinting at something like that, and also partly because of certain mental issues in her youth), wondering if the kidnappers had killed Cora, and all the while Marco let her suffer.  Beautiful conniving Cynthia tries to blackmail Marco to get money from Anne’s rich parents.  It would have worked, but Anne confronts Cynthia about kissing Marco on the night of the dinner party (which she overheard the detective asking Marco about one night).  Cynthia decides the jig is up and shows Anne the video of Marco, and Anne is rightfully pissed.

To use a Seinfeld expression, yada, yada, yada, Anne forgives Marco (WHAT?!), it comes out in the detective’s investigation that Anne, when she was a teenager, put some bully in the hospital when she slammed her head in the wall (but didn’t remember doing it), and it turns out that Anne’s stepfather Richard engineered the whole kidnapping by not lending Marco any money when Marco’s business was tanking and then having an acquaintance (Bruce) befriend Marco and put the kidnapping for ransom idea in his head.  Marco pissed me off.  Originally I was rooting for him, but letting his wife suffer that way by letting her think her baby was dead, and acting so innocent and put out, and then trying to act like it was all Richard’s fault because he had Bruce put the idea in his head.  Although, Richard’s own business was tanking and he and Anne’s mother had been living in separate bedrooms, so he wasn’t the powerful and in control man that he made himself out to be.

To cut to the end, Richard goes to jail, Marco and Anne appear to be all set to live happily ever after, and then Anne’s mother drops the bombshell that Richard was having an affair with Cynthia.  For whatever reason, Anne knocks on Cynthia’s door in the middle of the night and confronts her about the affair with her stepfather.  She then gets on the subject of Cora’s kidnapping, which Cynthia had nothing to do with and denies knowing anything.  Things get heated, and Cynthia…well, Cynthia says something she shouldn’t have said, and Anne goes crazy.  Literally.  Marco wakes up to police and an ambulance, someone is being taken away in a body bag, and when Marco rushes into the house he sees Anne covered in blood and holding a carving knife.  When he asks her what she did, she just looks at him and says, “I don’t know.  I don’t remember.”  WHAT?!

Now I know what the reviewer meant when they said the ending didn’t need to happen.  Have Cynthia go to jail for withholding evidence or blackmail, or whatever.  Anne had her family back.  I was on her side with the whole bully incident.  Then I thought she was an idiot when she forgave Marco for the whole kidnapping.  I flat out despised her at the end.  You don’t remember brutally murdering someone?  Anne has issues with violence.  Poor Cora should just be given to a whole new family.  I personally think Anne’s mother meant for all that to happen.  You know good and hell well that your daughter has mental and anger issues, (you’re the one who paid to keep the whole bully incident quiet) and you go and tell her that her stepfather is having an affair with her next door neighbor?  Looks like Richard isn’t the only manipulator in that family.

With all that being said, the ending aside, it was an excellent book.  I stayed up until 4:00 in the morning finishing it because I just did not want to put it down.  I can’t wait to read her other books.  If they’re anything like this one, I’ll be able to finish it in two days, tops.

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