Finally I got round to scoring this one off my 2018 tbr list, it only took me 8 months! I was excited to start this one because of the idea of looking into the possibility of parents kidnapping their child because let’s be honest the parents are always the main suspects.
I didn’t love this book like I wanted, in fact I found myself losing interest around the halfway mark.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lepana starts with a young couple at their next door neighbours’ house for dinner and drinks, with their infant daughter being left home alone with the baby monitor being their only means of keeping contact. Returning home at 1am their worst fears are realised as their daughter has been kidnapped. With the mother suffering from postnatal depression and it being the father’s idea to leave the baby in the house alone they are the prime suspects and it begs the question would a parent really do this to their own child?
It started off really well, you really got a sense of how the mother Anne felt before they even got home to the nightmare because she openly admits she has struggled with being a mother but she is also clearly insecure when it comes to her husband Marco who is blatantly flirting with their next door neighbour. For me this really helped me emphasise with Anne as a character because she was so fragile, yet so believable as a person. She really did not want to be away from her daughter and personally I think that helped in planting the seed for what was about to come.
Honestly I didn’t feel the book gripped me much considering that I can’t really remember many specific details. I enjoyed the suspense to start with and trying to work out what happened. I actually really liked the detective character Rasbach because I always got the sense that he knew something was a miss from the start and he almost tried to trip the characters up which I found interesting.
Anne’s mother and step dad really annoyed me though. The step dad was the cliche father figure that believes nobody is good enough for the daughter and yet he creeped me out for some reason. I suppose that is actually a good thing because it made him more interesting.
Spoilers: I didn’t have strong enough feelings towards Cynthia to feel anything for her gruesome end. I would have cared more if I felt she was more involved throughout. It felt like she was thrown in at the end to keep the next door neighbour relevant when in reality I feel she could have been left at simply blackmailing Marco for her own gain rather than due to her being involved with the father-in-law. The step dad/father-in-law was the one I really wanted to suffer and yet he was arrested and that was it. Would have been interesting to get an update for the future. Were they still together? Was the step dad in jail?
Overall it didn’t grip me the way I was expecting. It started off well but then got a bit too far fetched as I got further in. The ending was too open ended and left me asking too many questions. To be honest the ending seemed unnecessarily gruesome but because I really felt nothing for the character at the end, for me personally, it had no impact. It didn’t shock me, it didn’t upset me, if anything it annoyed me.