I was in Austin earlier this month for work and my flight was boarding in just a few short hours. I knew that the city’s popular book store, “Book People” had a kiosk in the airport but you know me by now- I wanted to venture to the real thing. So I jumped into an Uber and braved the traffic (I couldn’t believe how early the commuter rush began!) toward bookish bliss.
The store was everything that I hoped it would be: expansive with two stories of books, loaded with fun merchandise, aromatic with a coffee shop in house, and like Austin, very eclectic. I was able to browse the store for about an hour before the airport beckoned me back.
I wanted to pack light (I had purchased other books on the trip already) and found a few good TBR titles on sale, particularly one just recommended to me. “The Couple Next Door,” by Sheri Lapena, a 307-page paperback, was dubbed “an easy read” by my co-worker and I dove in as soon as I settled into my window seat.
Anne and Marco Conti needed a night out- with a new six-month old baby, Marco promised that it would be good for Anne to spend some time with friends, unwind with a few drinks in the complex next door. The babysitter cancels, and the Conti’s decide to leave baby Cora home asleep, agree to check on her routinely since the couple next door preferred an adults-only party.
The Conti’s return home shortly after midnight to find that their front door is left ajar and their beautiful baby is gone. They pace the house, retrace their steps, slide into sobriety as they struggle to remember their routine checks. The police are called. And the investigation begins.
But the search for Cora proves to uncover everything except for baby whereabouts- Anne and Marco realize that there are in fact cracks in their marriage, flaws in each other and themselves. In a time of tragedy, everything is tested: Trust, loyalty, and hope. These underlying themes weave themselves in and out of the book’s main storyline as we all look high and low for Cora.
Final Score: 3.5 I really enjoyed this book for the simple fact that it was an effortless page turner. The back cover boasts that “it will leave you breathless,” and I will say that it was enthralling, but only moderately so. What the story lacked in depth, it made up for in easy eloquence; I was able to devour the pages quickly because of the author’s writing style. It had a lot of twists and turns, character development was decent, but the ending made me close the book and shake my head. For me personally, a more plausible, understated conclusion would’ve sufficed- It felt like the author just wanted to get one last “zinger” in and the realist in me rolled my eyes to the plot choice. Otherwise, I liked the book a lot.
BEST FOR: Beach readers who crave a suspenseful ride: This is a quick, dynamic book to lose yourself in for a few hours.
NOT GOOD FOR: The ending will really annoy more sophisticated mystery lovers who crave that realist plot line. This is definitely not one of those books.
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: The book would be labeled, “The troublemaker.”
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