Shari Lapena: The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

In her debut in the suspense/mystery genre Shari Lapena asks the question, how well do you those who are close to you: 

Anne and Marco are invited to a dinner party, only problem is their new baby is not invited. Good thing you live next door to the dinner party, at least that is what Anne's husband, Marco tells her and that between the baby monitor and checking on Cora every hour Marco is convinced. Everything is not fine, when they return home in the early morning hours to every parent's nightmare, the crib is empty, the baby is gone. What ensues is panic and every parent's nightmare. Will they get Cora back, who could have taken her, why did they leave her alone, did Anne do something to Cora? All of these questions are racing through everyone's mind as they try to find out what happened and get Cora back before it is too late.

This was a good debut for Lapena in this genre and really touched home on some points for me. As a new mom, this book starts out as my worst nightmare. Going in to the baby's room and finding they're missing would break anyone's heart but as a parent now, I cannot even imagine how I would react. I liked that Lapena had some aspects of postpartum depression and symptoms in the book and highlighted how things can be difficult for a lot of new moms out there. You really feel for Anne as she is struggling with it but it feel like she has no one to talk to it about and it seems very little understanding from her husband ans so call friend. I personally wanted to go through the book and grab the so called friend, Cynthia, who was next door when she made comments about how much Anne had changed after the baby and how she was no longer fun and interesting....All i can say is she ruffled more than one of my feathers lol.

I think that throughout the book I am most drawn to Anne and her struggle to come to terms of her child missing and all the walls crumbling down around her, especially when she and Marco are suspects right off the bat. You can really feel her emotions and struggle and I think that Lapena did a really good job in her characterization. I did feel like Anne was the main character in this book, I know that Marco has quite a bit from his point of view but I felt like everything really was centered around Anne. I also liked the police officer in this book, and I wish there was more from his point of view as he seemed like the tough as nails type of guy.

What I did not like about this book is that you as the reader know more than the characters and you are waiting for Anne to figure it out. I'm not a fan when main characters are behind what the reader knows, it takes out the suspense and mystery aspects of the book. I also felt that the book lacked any major twist or turns and I found it very predictable in the way that the plot unfolded.

This is a good book and I think that I enjoyed it more as I was able to feel some sort of connection with Anne. I do not think I would have liked this book as much if I had not felt this connection as I found the plot/mystery/suspense aspect a little lack luster, full of drama sure, but not normally the type of drama I'm drawn to (think Lifetime movie). However, I would read another book by Lapena as there were aspects in this book I liked and I think there is some real story tell talent here.

Enjoy!!!

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