I tried this book because I’m willing to try new authors and curious about what kind of domestic suspense is being published now. Ultimately, this book didn’t take off for me because it felt like too many twists and too many secrets for these characters to be believable, but I can see why people would race through this kind of book.
The Couple Next Door has a high concept: a baby disappears during a dinner party. The child is asleep next door while the neighboring couples spend the evening together, complete with baby monitor and regular visits to check on the young child. It’s a thriller with a movie-like set-up, and from there, the plot is brisk and predictable in that it’s littered with twists. This is a downfall of the “time left” clock on my Kindle. I knew how long the twists would keep coming because I knew how much time I had left in the book.
The plot starts abruptly. I didn’t really get a feel for the characters in the beginning, and I definitely didn’t grow to understand them more as I went along. Unfortunately, they seemed more like a collection of secrets and lies than real people to me. And the other thing that bothered me about the book was that there wasn’t much left to the imagination: lots of scenarios were spun out explicitly, which takes away from the fun of some of the plot. I much preferred Sinead Crowley’s Can Anybody Help Me? for a smart take on a mother with a baby/ domestic suspense story. There was a greater level of dread and more realistic characters than in this one.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Pamela Dorman, August 2016
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.