THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: Add this one to your summer TBR
I've been on a domestic thriller kick in a big way lately. Some have been great (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris) and some have been disappointing (ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN by Wendy Walker), and today I'm thrilled to add THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena to my list of domestic thriller must-reads. This book is twisty, suspenseful, and brimming with examples of ordinary people making extraordinarily bad choices—in short, the perfect crime book to add to your summer reading list.
THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR asks readers one simple question: how well do you know the people you surround yourself with? Meet Anne and Marco Conti—a young couple with apparently friendly neighbors, a beautiful baby girl, and a seemingly idyllic life. One night, while the couple is at a dinner party, the unthinkable happens: their baby is kidnapped. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of deceit, betrayal, and secrets, as husband and wife try to grapple with the horrors of their new reality—and come face to face with the truth about one another.
All domestic thrillers are based upon the same premise: the most ordinary people can hide the most terrible secrets. That's what makes domestic thrillers so addictive and unsettling—they take something that we tend to consider very normal and secure (most often, the relationship between a husband and wife), and push it to its breaking point through scenarios that truly could happen to anyone. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR does this to great effect. Anne and Marco are the most ordinary of couples—Marco runs his own business, and Anne has quit her job to focus on raising their baby girl. One dinner party later, their whole world is split in two, and they find themselves uncovering secrets they never knew existed within their relationship.
So now you might be thinking, "that's all well and good, but why should I read this domestic thriller? You just said they all tackle almost the same topic!"
You're not wrong—they're all based on a similar premise. But where THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR stands out is in its quiet-yet-driving style. Where BEHIND CLOSED DOORS sped through 400 pages of shocking event after shocking event, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR has a more quiet burn to it. This book is brimming with emotion, and readers will find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets of the Conti family through quiet moments of Anne's despair, Marco's desperation, and the police investigator's utter confusion. Don't get me wrong—this story has its moments of shock and big reveals, and they are wholly entertaining! But what stands out in this book is the author's ability to draw the reader into the unique response that each character has to the story's central crime. I was particularly fascinated by the character of Anne, and I do wish the author had given her development just a bit more time. Overall, however, this book is a standout for its ability to give each character a touch of insanity, a touch of dishonesty, and a whole lot of humanity.
Last but certainly not least, it's worth mentioning that this book has one of my favorite endings that I've read in a long time. I can't say too much, because I would never want to spoil it for you! But truly, the last two to three pages of this book made the whole story for me. The author takes a big risk by choosing to end the story on the note that she does, and I think it paid off in spades.
Fans of domestic and psychological thrillers, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR should be on your summer 2016 reading list. Pick this book up for an unnerving plot, characters you can't trust, and a shocking ending. This is a standout debut from a newcomer to the crime fiction scene, and I expect to see big things from Shari Lapena in the future.
THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR releases August 23, 2016 from Viking Books.
Disclaimer: I am an employee of Penguin Random House. All opinions my own.