The Couple Next Door is Shari Lapena’s first foray into the suspense genre. The book was extremely successful, falling into the onslaught of recent publications being compared to The Girl on the Train. The story revolves around a young family living in a duplex. The couple, Anne and Marco Conti, find themselves attending a dinner party in the house of their neighbor in said duplex. As their babysitter cancelled last minute, Anne and Marco leave their baby home alone with plans of checking on her at regular intervals. Despite Anne’s misgivings, Marco justifies this action by pointing out that they’re literally just on the other side of the wall.
Of course, the baby goes missing and chaos ensues.
For me personally this book struck a sour note from the first chapter forward. I had recently finished Joy Fielding’s 2016 suspense novel She’s Not There which followed the same premise. A mother and father have dinner plans, and leave their children in their hotel room when the babysitter cancels. Despite the mother’s misgivings, the father justifies the decision by pointing out that dinner is just outside the door; they can see the balcony from their table. Of course, the baby goes missing and chaos ensues. See the problem?
While many of the plot points are identical throughout the two stories, The Couple Next Door does take a different direction overall. There is no denying Lapena’s ability to hook a reader and foster suspense. Though the characters were infuriating in their selfishness and stupidity, and parts of the story were outlandish, I couldn’t put the book down.
Lapena gets a standing ovation for the shocking ending of The Couple Next Door. She masterfully ingrained subtle foreshadowing throughout the novel, then finished with a flourish. As far as twists go, that one was a knife in the back.
I recommend The Couple Next Door to anyone looking for a quick, suspenseful read. I also recommend reading She’s Not There so you can compare, contrast and decide for yourself who “wore it” better.
To purchase The Couple Next Door click here.
To purchase She’s Not There click here.