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.
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.
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.
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.
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction