“The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena

8/10 because of the last 2 pages of the book which still makes me wondering why it was needed for? .
First thing first: this kind of book is not my usual cup of tea and for years I did not read anything from “thriller /detective” type of books being well too busy with my beloved science fiction series. So, being somehow still a novice, I might be easily impressed and consider a book better than it is compared to those who are well versed in this genre. Also, it is not the first one from the genre so if I am saying that the book is good, then it should be good at least taking into consideration the fact that I can make a general assumption about a book considering that I have a shitload of books under the belly already. So this book was not good but really awesome. The fun fact is that I never intended to read it and I have no idea who the author is. As it also happened lately with a lot of books from a lot of authors of which I’ve never heard before. But the recommendation came out of nowhere as in “this book is really good and you will like it and you should read it as soon as possible” so I was like OK, let’s give it a try and at the end, I loved it totally and made me stay awake half of the night to finish it. This is not happening very often especially with a book that is not in my immediate area of interest. Another funny fact is that the last time when it happened to stay awake half of the night to finish a book it was also a thriller recommended in the same style by the same person so I think that I will be more careful accepting recommendations from that One person because I still care to sleep.

So, “The couple next door” was awesome and I am saying this because I will always love a book that has a nice plot, an unexpected plot twist, and even worse, it ends with a crime. That was totally out of the box, the last page instead of being the long-awaited happy-end and everyone is more or less fine and the story is settled is ending with a crime. And I thought that George R.R. Martin is totally nuts. Seems like I was wrong.

The plot is kinda simple ot it just looks like: two couples spend a night together and the kid of one of them is kidnapped. Who and why are the first questions, of course. So in the first part of the book, we start to find that no one is that innocent: Marco, the father, has some financial problems, the company is serious troubles, his parents-in-law are not very happy with his existence because he dared as a commoner to look up to their beloved princess, Anne, which princess is also not that innocent, having some serious problems when she was younger with uncontended rage burst and even worse, forgetting everything after. And yes, Anne’s parents really damn rich and almost everything Anne and Marco have is giving to them by her parents. And the neighbors? She’s just a slut (who almost cheated with Marco) and her husband has nothing against her because he too enjoys seeing her in action everything being videotaped. Police are all around the place suspecting everyone of everything especially when the parents seem to be not that innocent at all.

And all of the sudden there it is, in the middle of the book: Marco kidnapped his little girl in agreement with some other guy so he can take a couple of millions from his father-in-law who was willing to pay any amount of money to take back his only niece. And the reason is that he needed the money to save his company But too bad, the associate is found dead, the ransom payment is going bad and Marco losses both the kid and the money, and we’re back to square one: who and why? And now comes the beautiful part: as is kinda usual in the US, if there is a marriage between wealthy people, there is involved a prenup contract which can make you rich or poor in the eventuality of a divorce. Especially when you want to leave your wealthy wife for your sluttier younger mistress but you’ll remain with nothing after the divorce. So you scheme and make a brilliant plan to push your son-in-law to kidnap his own daughter so you can tap several million from your soon-to-be ex-wife while keeping the baby safe and acting all innocent. While I understood with some time before the end of the book who the real bad guy is, I have to say that it was really a nice and clever scheme, too bad it failed and the parents got their kid back and the bad guy ended for a long holiday in prison. Now the book is ending, everyone is fine and the next thing you see is Anne having one of her rage bursts and killing her lovely slutty neighbor which coincidentally is the mistress of her father. And only now the end is really coming. And I was like “wow, that was totally unexpected!”. I still don’t get why Anne had to kill her neighbor and what’s the reason to make her at the very end of the book a killer only to close the book in the next ten rows. While I do understand her reasons, I am somehow puzzled by the moment when it is happening because there are all the chances to go to prison even if Marco will try to cover the murder so..why at the real end of the book? Just to impress the reader with one last unexpected twist? Call me unimpressed, then. That’s why I am giving 8/10 instead of the 9/10 I wanted to give in the first instance.

I enjoyed also the characters, Marco, a self-driven guy who started from scratch and almost nothing, making his way to the American Dream and meeting his love, Anne, who despite being from a wealthier class has nothing against marrying this guy, even if her parents are not that happy with this because in their eyes Marco will never be good enough. The fact that bothers me is that even if I’ve read the book only a couple of days ago Marco is already fading from my memory, I don’t recall him as a very strong character, despite him being one of the main characters while Anne is really clear in my mind, her doubts, her second-guesses (“What if I really killed my daughter and I don’t recall?), her guilt of leaving the little baby alone while she was at a party everything is still very much alive in my mind. So I can only guess that Anne was better constructed than Marco and left me with a much stronger impression. The other characters ( her parents, the police guy) are secondary characters, not too much to say about them but I still recall having from the very first second the impression that the father-in-law is a jerk. Which was confirmed at the end of the book.
So for me, the book was good, despite the fact the now for me Marco is “someone I used to know” and the somehow unnecessary crime at the end. The plot was intense and really well constructed and plot twists were exactly what was needed when it was needed, especially the smoke screen when is revealed that Marco indeed kidnapped his little baby only to discover later by both him in the book and the reader that he is just an accessory to the real crime. You have to admire the evilness of his father-in-law and the beauty of the scheme. I will say nothing about “easy or not to read” because I did not read it in English so there is nothing to say about it but in my native language it was quite a fast reading. Overall a very good recommendation from an awesome booklover as all her recommendations were so far, for which I will be forever thankful (and despite some complaints in the beginning, I will always ask and look forward to your recommendations!).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: