The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: August 23, 2016

After Gone Baby Gone, I noticed a whole lot of new psychological suspense/mystery novels coming out. Some hit the mark, some didn't. The Couple Next Door hits that mark in a very big way.

At the heart of this story is something I can related to. Anne Conti and her husband Marco have been invited to their neighbor's house for a birthday dinner. When their babysitter cancels at the last minute, they have few choices. They can either bring the baby, cancel for the night, have Anne stay home while Marco goes alone, or leave the baby sleeping in her crib while they bring a monitor and do 30-minute checks. Anne's not 100%, but Marco swears it will be fine. It's not fine. They return home after the dinner party and their six-month-old daughter is missing.

What follows is the police investigation and desperate attempt to unravel the truth. As is true in any missing child case. Suspicion falls on the parents, but the more the police discover, the more twisted a case it really appears to be.

When my son was born, it was pretty common for my husband and I to go next door and sit outside on the patio with our neighbor. We'd have the monitor in hand, check on him every 15 to 20 minutes, and all was fine. His patio was also about 30 feet from our door. For that reason, I could not blame Marco and Anne's decision that kicks everything into gear in The Couple Next Door.

There are a lot of twists in this story. Some I saw coming, but others did shock me. I actually started reading the story with the expectations that I'd just read a chapter and then get back to the other book I was reading. That never happened. From the first paragraph, I was completely hooked.

Shari Lapena's writing is gripping, and the story moves at a fast pace during every chapter. I liked most of the characters and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. It's an awesome debut suspense for the author, and I'm happy she made the move to this genre!


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