Review: The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena

The Couple Next DoorAnne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Whenever books are classified as the next Gone Girlor a new psychological thriller, I’m always hesitant to pick them up. I loved Gone Girl, and I’ve always felt like any other books that claim to be like it are just setting themselves up to fail. They’re never going to reach the same level of success. However, The Couple Next Door, is a very good novel and while it’s not up to Gone Girl standards, it’s the first psychological thriller I’ve read in a long time that actually kept me guessing and wasn’t fully predictable.

I’m a sucker for stories that have a mysterious premise. I think it’s important to go into this novel with as little information as possible about the plot. What I can reveal is that I didn’t see of all of the twists coming and I’m usually very good at predicting what’s going to happen next. I definitely didn’t see the end coming and while I thoughts parts of the novel were a little overkill, overall the plot was so captivating that I had a hard time putting the book down. While I was reading, I kept thinking that this is a plot that would make a fantastic movie.

The book switches narration between of all of the main characters, and while I like that plot device, I wasn’t fond of any of the characters. I didn’t really connect to any of them. The problem was that since the book switched perspectives so often, the reader never fully understood anybody. It was a superficial view of the characterization and I really disliked that.

Another place this book fell short was with the writing. The writing wasn’t bad, but I have a habit of comparing every psychological thriller to Gone Girl, and Gillian Flynn’s writing is almost perfect for me. Shari Lapena writes well, but her writing isn’t as sharp or as acerbic as Gillian Flynn’s writing. You never find yourself in awe of the writing, which is disappointing.

Overall, this is a really interesting, entertaining novel with a lot of unexpected twists. While I do recommend it to people who like mysteries with unreliable narrators, and psychological thrillers, the mediocre writing ensures that it will only be a one-time read. However, I would still be very interested in reading Shari Lapena’s future novels.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.


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