The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

When the babysitter cancels, Anne and Marco Conti figure that they can still go to a The Couple Next Doordinner party next door, with the baby monitor in hand.  They’ll check on their infant daughter Cora every thirty minutes.  What can go wrong?

Everything, when Cora goes missing shortly after 12:30 am, and the couple enters the biggest nightmare of their lives.

From doting parents to negligent inebriates – the press will have a heyday with this one, as does the police, who begin grilling the couple shortly after the kidnapping.  Marco is stressed already with running a struggling software business.  Anne is in the middle of an extended postpartum depression; the disappearance of her child is enough to push her over the edge.

Anne’s rich parents enter the picture soon afterward, with the monetary leverage to deal with a kidnapper, should one come forth.  Their relationship with Anne is close – with Marco, it’s more of a strained tolerance.  He will forever be the outsider, an interloper who took their daughter’s affection.  It is Marco to whom they cast the most suspicion.

It turns out that nobody’s hands are clean, as this brisk thriller proceeds.

The Couple Next Door is not what I would call great fiction, but the book is certainly a page turner.  I easily got caught up in the intrigue, and while there are lots of standard elements in the book, it clips along nicely, and the ending got me off guard.  Plus, with plugs from Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner… well, read the book.

(William Hicks, Information Services)


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