If you’re into thrillers, add The Couple Next Door to your list. This fast-paced novel by Shari Lapena has enough twists and turns to keep your interest – and keep you guessing – until the last page.
It’s reminiscent of Gone Girl in that it takes place in seemingly mundane suburbia where what happens behind closed doors is more than meets the eye and the characters question if they really know the people they consider closest to them. The story begins with a dinner party between two couples who are next-door neighbors: Marco and Anne, and Cynthia and Graham. By the end of the first chapter something has gone terribly wrong: Marco and Anne’s baby, whom they left at home, is missing.
From there, the plot takes off at breakneck speed. I was reading it slowly and steadily until I got about halfway through, at which point I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it that same day. The overarching questions are: What happened to the baby? Who took her? Why did they take her? Will they ever get her back? But how they find those answers is anything but expected.
I enjoyed the third person omniscient perspective this was written in. It’s often frustrating in thrillers to not know what everyone is thinking or what really happened. In this book, the reader is let in on the guilty party’s conscience, the detective’s suspicions, and the couple’s fears all along. Even still, there is enough suspense as more questions arise and secrets come to light that you’ll still be on edge until the very end. Just because you know what every character is thinking doesn’t mean you can always trust what every character remembers to be true.
I wasn’t totally impressed with the writing of this novel and would put it at a middle school reading level (but NOT middle school content). It reminds me of the Hunger Games series where it’s primarily plot driven and there isn’t a lot more that goes into it. But that doesn’t make it a bad book! In fact, I think it lends itself well to the content of this story to keep it matter-of-fact and not overly descriptive. Being plot driven is what makes it the page turner it is, and if she had written it in a more artistic style, it would not have felt as authentic or suspenseful.
I didn’t guess the ending like I thought I would, and it was definitely satisfying. The worst thing that can happen in a thriller is to be less-than-impressed with the way things wrap up, and that was NOT the case here. But don’t take my word for it – check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Stats: 320 pages
Recommended for: People in the mood for a suspenseful novel who have some time on their hands to dive into a book you won’t be able to put down!
Up Next: Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman