I would like to thank Netgalley, Random House UK and the author Shari Lapena for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.Shari Lapena has worked as a lawyer and English teacher before turning to writing and The Couple Next Door is her debut in suspense. This book was published few days ago here in UK, but will come out in US next month. I read this book because I couldn’t decide, if I should put it on my anticipated list, if it will be worth it or should I just ignore it, Netgalley was a handy tiebreaker.
The Couple Next Door is a story about a family of three – Marco, Anne and their little baby Cora. When both parents decide to leave the six months old baby alone, while they are next doors, terrible things happen to Cora. The parents are hating themselves for their decision to leave the baby unattended… if only they could turn back time and never go to the neighbour’s dinner party…
This book wasn’t really what I had expected, I noticed many flaws and plot holes – not so much in the beginning, but more towards the end, yet I can’t really say that it would be a bad book, I liked it.
I felt like I should list some of the plot holes, so here we go! One of the things that didn’t make sense to me was the nanny – why would anyone ever leave their child with a nanny that tends to fall asleep? Next – why does a software company only have developers? Why would you think that no one has seen you together with person X, if you were outside and ‘only people who were running and biking were passing’ – people tend to keep to the same route for their workouts (sometimes they don’t have a choice), so those casual passers would notice both people together, seems like a stupid thing to assume that ‘no one saw us together’. No one ever mentioned that Anne had a decaf coffee – this is something I felt should be there no matter if it is important to the story or not, because they seemed to be obsessed with things new mothers can and can’t do. Why the neighbours weren’t questioned properly since the start of this?
I guess the title itself is a mystery and a way for the author to play with the reader even before reading the book, because it is a bit misleading when combined with the books description. I don’t actually think it to be wrong, I guess somehow I see it as a brilliance.
Since the first page I felt like the author is doing a good job at telling everyone’s point of views, it was a bit tangled sometimes, but it made me feel like I know what is happening in everyone’s mind and feelings. It was a great insight and helped to think about the person at fault.
The fact that the events included few cliches was slightly disappointing. The excellent start was suppressed by elements that are widely used in the genre and some of the story driving points just couldn’t stand the critique. It was too obvious and seemed a desperate way to push the story forward.
Nevertheless I liked the book and found the language of the book to be really binding. It could describe the most dull and ordinary things (sometimes even for the second time as police was describing premises or objects) , but was so captivated and everything seemed so important. Sometimes even things that had no role in the future story was described, yet it all added to the suspense and my theories of what is really happening.
I don’t think I had a favourite character in this book, I loved how Anne’s emotional health was showed and developed as the search for her baby continued and found it to be well done and appropriate for the situation.
Around two thirds in the book I started to feel like it is stretched out too much, I got tired and had too many things in my mind that didn’t matter at all. The feeling passed, but that doesn’t mean that it was erased and that it didn’t impact my thoughts on the book.
Although this book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting after reading the small description, I liked it. I read it in one addictive sitting and although seemed a bit stretched out, was interesting. It received three stars from me on my goodreads page and if it wasn’t for those cliches and stretched feeling, it would have been four. It is a generally addictive read as suspense usually is and you just want to figure out what’s up. I guessed some things and some I didn’t. This book probably should be recommended to holiday-suspense-readers like me. I am not entirely sure, if regular readers of the genre haven’t “read it all” already, but I would like to believe that they will like this one too.