The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a modern tale of a couple whose baby goes missing. Anne Conti and Marco Conti are beautiful and their six-month old daughter Cora is amazingly cute and sweet. She has beautiful, round blue eyes, chubby cheeks, blond hair with curls. And Cora is another amusing name to fall for.
Anne and Marco are invited to a birthday party without carrying children by the next door neighbors, Cynthia Stillwell and Graham Stillwell. It is Graham’s 40th birthday, and Cynthia wants to do something simple. Cynthia and Graham are childless by choice. Moreover, Cynthia doesn’t like children and Cora is a faddy baby.
To put through the problem, Anne and Marco hired a baby sitter called Katerina; she would take care of the child while they attend the party next door. But unfortunately her grandmother dies just in time, thus forcing Katerina to call them to cancel her arrival at 6:00 PM. But the party is at 7:00 PM. Out of nowhere, Anne offers to stay home with the baby. But Marco insisted her not to stay home. Anne was seeing a psychiatrist for her postpartum depression and nobody knows about that except Marco and Anne’s mother Alice, not even her step-father Richards Dries. Anne and Marco argues about going to the party, and finally Marco persuaded that with the monitor on the next door they could hear the baby anytime (the monitor’s audio was fine but the video was not working). They also decide that they would take turns to check on her every half an hour. They thought nothing bad would happen. When they arrived home after the party around 1:30 AM, the front door was slightly ajar, and the baby was gone. There was just an empty crib.
Soon detective Rasbach is assigned to solve the case.
As the story advances half way through the book it becomes clear what was the plan and who was behind it. But where is the fun if you knew the plan midway so there were so many twists. At some point, readers wondered if that many twists were needed. Readers may grow suspicious of every single character, but the story will force them not to trust any character till they reach the end.
Also, leaving a child unattended comes under child endangerment. No? But surprisingly that was never mentioned in the book. It was never mentioned in the book: backdrop. It says that the houses were attached and the man went downtime for work. What part of the world was that place was totally kept hidden.
The ending was predictable. Rather quite disappointing. The writing and language usage are reasonable; one can enjoy it during a wintry afternoon. Would Anne and Marco succeed in getting back Cora? Was she still alive? What was the actual plan and who was behind it? You must give this one a shot to unravel the mystery.