Travel does not stand in the way of reading. Well, okay. Sometimes it does. I still managed to finish The Couple Next Door by Canadian author Shari Lapena. The thriller was published in 2016 and it reminds me a little bit of Gone Girl with its many twists and turns. And it even has a bit of a controversial ending, although I consider it genius.
The book is about a couple, Anne and Marco, who go to a dinner party to their next door neighbours and leave their six month old daughter Cora alone at home. They check on her every half hour. But when they come home, Cora is gone. The premise of the book is quite simple. Baby goes missing from her parent’s home somewhat after midnight.
What follows is a highly intriguing thriller that is mostly out of Anne or Marco’s perspective and sometimes from Detective Rasbach, the lead detective on the case. With both Anne and Marco I had difficulties caring for them at first. Actually, there was apart during the book when I found missing baby Cora the only person I cared about. You never get to know Rasbach and since he is only the detective his live is not turned upside down by this case.
I did care about Anne at the end. She hasn’t had it easy in her live and the moment you get to know her life story you cannot help but feel for her. At least I couldn’t. Marco on the other hand is a tougher case. I am diving into important stuff now, so if you haven’t read the book yet but want to, avert your eyes now. Consider this your spoiler warning.
The entire kidnapping was planed by Marco. Or so it seems. That’s when you have a hard time caring for a guy who kidnapped his own daughter so he can get money from his rich in-laws. Once I found out that Marco had been played by his father-in-law Richard the whole time, I started to feel sorry for him again. And it helped that he was genuinely miserable pretty much the entire book.
At the end, Cora is returned home safely, Marco managed to strike a deal with the police and Richard is arrested on kidnapping and murder. He murdered his accomplice, you see. If you think Lapena wraps it up neatly you are mistaken. This has to be my favourite ending ever. It all has to do with Anne’s mental disorder and neighbour Cynthia’s not so kind words.
See, Cynthia didn’t just try to seduce Marco at the dinner party – she and her husband like to watch her having sex with other men – she also had an affair with Anne’s father or I should probably say step-dad, Richard. And when Anne confronts her with the affair and also Cynthia’s knowledge on the kidnapping, Cynthia says the one thing you should never tell a mother who’s baby had just been kidnapped. You probably shouldn’t tell that to any mother, mind you. She tells Anne that had she known about the kidnapping, she would have had Cora killed immediately.
In the very last bit of the book, Marco wakes up and finds sirens all around their neighbourhood and a dead body transported from Cynthia’s house. He then finds Anne in the living room full of blood and not able to remember what she did. And then it fades to black. I mean, the book ends.
I really loved that ending. It is so open and my mind started racing the minute I finished as to what could happen next. Does Marco tell the police? Do they find out on their own? Or is Marco not telling the police his way of getting back together with his estranged wife? (Kidnapping your child does not help in a relationship, just so you know.)
Have you read the book? Did you like it a much as I did? Or were you disappointed in the ending? Let me know in the comments.