Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Again, my Book of the Month Club has given me an amazing read! Seriously, I think this is the best thing I have ever signed up for! Not only is it giving me books that I wouldn't normally pick up, but they include cute little book marks and letters from the judge that picked the book and some other cute trinket. Gah! I love it!

When I selected The Couple Next Door, I only read a very small snippet of the synopsis that talked about how you never know what's going on next door, so I figured it would be some illustrious affair novel. Man, I was wrong, but that is totally okay!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Oh, What a Tangled Web we Weave

The story focuses on Marco and Anne Conti, and their baby Cora, although portions of the book are also told from the views of neighbors, family members, and detectives, so you know a little bit of what everyone is thinking.

We start out with Marco and Anne at a dinner party at their neighbors house. It is past 1 AM and Anne wants to get home to her baby. Although they originally had a sitter for the night, she cancelled and baby Cora has been left alone, although the parents have been very diligent about checking on her every half hour, and they have the baby monitor with them. Anne is having a poor time at the party; Cynthia, their neighbor, has been very flirtatious with Marco all night, and since the birth of Cora six months ago, she has been battling Postpartum Depression, and tonight has just become too much for her. However, when the Conti's return to their house, they find the door open and Cora missing, and Anne crumples into a crying mess.

(Source: Giphy)
From here on out, it's a guess who when it comes to who has Cora and why. Detective Rasbach suspects the parents, or at least Marco. Anne and Marco think it is someone who wants her parents money. Her parents, Richard and Alice, suspect it could be Anne who has a history of blacking out when she gets stressed and does something horrible. Sadly, it's not that easy to pin the blame on anyone.

(Source: Giphy)
When Marco reveals to the reader halfway through the novel that he was the one that planned the kidnapping with a man, Bruce Neeland whose name turned out to be Derek Honig. 

"If he'd pulled it off, the story would have been about a child abducted from her deroom while the babysitter was downstairs. But then she cancelled...Had he felt there was any actual risk to Cora at all, he never would have done it. Not for any amount of money....He especially regrets how hard this is on Anne,...Marco had handed his baby over to a co-conspirator who hadn't followed the plan and whom he couldn't get hold of." (pp. 144-145)

Marco's business is in serious financial trouble and Anne's parents have refused to help him any more than they already have. However, Bruce tells him that if they stage the kidnapping, he can the money he needs plus some. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned and people who you thought you knew are colder than they seem, and they all find they have been betrayed by someone unsuspected.

(Source: Giphy)
Lapena's novel has kidnapping, murder, affairs, lies, and a happy-ish ending. What more could you want out of a book?

The Art of Deception Isn't Easy
  • You spend the first half of the book pretty much really not knowing who took Cora. I honestly didn't think it was Marco. I suspected Cynthia and even Richard, but not Marco. Although I was right in suspecting them seeing as Richard staged everything so he could get his wife's money and get Marco out of Anne's life in the process. And then of course, he and Cynthia were having an affair and I definitely didn't see that one coming. I figured she was cheating, just not with him.
  • Lapena does an amazing job of getting inside the head of a woman with postpartum depression. I've never had it, (I've never had kids), but being a woman who loves her nieces dearly, understands hormone levels, and also gets depression, I can definitely put myself in Anne's position and feel everything she feels. 
"I have never thought about harming my child. I didn't shake her or smother her or hurt her in any way. I didn't drop her by accident either. I wasn't that drunk. I was crying when I fed her because I was sad about being fat and unattractive, and Cynthia-who is supposed to be a friend-had been flirting with my husband all evening...Maybe you should become a little better informed about postpartum depression, Detective. Postpartum depression is not the same thing as postpartum psychosis. I am clearly not psychotic, Detective." (p. 116)
  • I wish Anne's "illness" had been described more, or talked about more. I feel like it should have played a bigger role, especially with the ending. (Oh Stars! I did not see that ending coming!) 
  • This novel tells you why you shouldn't lie, to anyone, especially your spouse. Lies always backfire. Marco didn't tell Anne about his financial issues when they started, which meant that when they got really bad, he didn't want to tell her even more, which led him to staging a kidnapping. Anne didn't tell Marco that she used to blackout and forgets huge chunks of time where she could be physically violent towards people. Cynthia and her husband, Graham, didn't say anything about the video camera in the backyard because it's illegal to film people having sex without their knowledge (yeah, they're pretty kinky). If you take anything away from this, let it this: do not lie.
(Source: Giphy)
Rating: 7/10
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Monday, October 3, 2016

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None is one of my most favorite novels. I have read it countless times and every time it's like reading it for the first time. Although I haven't read any of Christie's other novels, but I can only imagine they are just as thrilling. For me, this book has everything that a mystery needs.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

A Dossier of Sorts

Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, all under false pretenses: Mr. Justice Wargrave, Vera Claythorne, Captain Phillip Lombard, Emily Brent, General Macarthur, Dr. Armstrong, Tony Marston, and Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. Although they all seem like ordinary people, they aren't a bunch you would normally see together. 

(Source: Google)
On the first night, a record begins to mysteriously play, accusing each of them of murder. Instantly, panic ensues between the group of strangers. The group begins to discuss the reasons they have all come to the island; none of the reasons are the same; however, they are all signed U.N. Owen, or Unknown. They all look at each other accusingly as they plead their innocence of the crimes the voice has accused them of, that is until Marston takes a drink of whiskey and falls to the floor dead.

(Source: Giphy)
Throughout the course of the weekend, slowly but surely, the rest of our party is killed, and all deaths follow the theme of the "Ten Little Soldier Boys" nursery rhyme. They have searched the house and the island; they know that they are the only people on the island. Each person has been searched, along with their rooms. There are absolutely no clues to who is behind these gruesome murders. Sadly, none of them will get any answers, or off the island.

(Source: Google)

How to Get Away With Murder

  • In every single mystery/thriller/suspense novel or movie, I have always been able to figure out who the bad guy is. This book keeps you guessing until you read the letter the murderer has written confessing their story and motives.

  • The "Ten Little Soldier Boys" poem has totally ruined nursery rhymes for me. 
"Ten little soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little soldier boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little soldier boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little soldier boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little soldier boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there were was one.

One little soldier boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself

And then there were non." (pp. 28-29)

  • This book definitely shows you a different side of people. Not only do you learn that all of these people had a hand in someone's death, although of varying degrees, it also shows you how people behave when trapped.
  • This book is a total mind-bender. Every time you think you know who it is, they are killed. Every time you think there has to be someone else on the island, they do a search of it and prove you wrong. 
(Source: Giphy)
I've always loved re-reading this book. Other books I re-read for the feelings it gave me; I re-read this book for the mystery. Every time I pick it up, I find a clue I didn't notice last time. My copy of the book is very well loved; the spine torn and cover curling, the pages soften from multiple uses, the smell of a book that has trapped a memory of previous readings. This book is perfect.

Rating: 10/10
Genres: Mystery, Classics, Fiction