Synopsis: A mystery story about a couple whose child was stolen.

Anne and Marco Conti are just exhausted.  They recently became parents to little baby Cora, and they have no real time to themselves.  For just one night, they attend the party of their glamorous next-door neighbor.  They wanna  let loose and have fun.  Fun without their little daughter, whom they leave home alone.  So they get the shock of their lives when they return home to find Cora missing from her crib.  This is just the beginning of the many problems the Contis will face.  Get ready for a rough ride.

It’s quite a task to write about such unlikeable people.  You have to find a way to make them sympathetic as well.  But I think that Shari Lapena did an excellent job of that.  All of the characters have done terrible things, but somehow, you find yourself feeling sorry for them…a little.  I felt the most sympathy for Cora, the couple’s six-month old daughter.  But out of the adult characters, I felt the most sympathy for Anne.  She has never quite had an easy life growing up.  And she has to deal with a lot of really intense things.  What are those?  You’ll have to read the book in order to find out.  There was some sympathy for Marco.  I could somewhat relate to a few of his struggles in the book.  But for a lot of the story, I didn’t like him very much.  I couldn’t stand Anne’s step-father.  What a twisted man! You just wanted to punch him in the face.

With this book, Lapena used a slightly more traditional format.  From the very first page, you just have to know what happens next.  It felt like I was going through a variety of different feelings–shock, surprise, disgust, sympathy, anger and relief etc.  I wanted to shake Marco violently for even suggesting that they leave their baby daughter at home alone.  That was incredibly dangerous and stupid.  Later on, you’ll see why he did that.  You’ll probably won’t believe it.  It was fun to see things partly from Detective Rasbach’s perspective.  There was tons of secrets that the characters kept form each other.  I liked how they were unveiled one piece at a time.  It never felt overwhelming.  He was an interesting character.   I wish we knew more about him, though.

My biggest issue with the book was the ending.  At first, I liked it.  That ending was certainly a shock. Upon rereading, however, I liked it a lot less.   I know a lot of people hate ‘happily ever after endings’.  But I think it would’ve made more sense this time.  Anne and Marco had gone through enough.

 

Besides the above complaint, I really enjoyed reading The Couple Next Door.  It was a fun, fast-paced read.  In fact, it was probably one of the best mystery books I’ve ever read. Highly recommended,  I’d give it a 9 out of 10.  You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores.