“The Couple Next Door” (Pamela Dorman Books), by Shari Lapena
In Shari Lapena’s highly suspenseful thriller “The Couple Next Door,” Anne and Marco Conti return home from a dinner party to find their front door open and their 6-month-old daughter, Cora, missing.
The Contis had been at their neighbors’ house for a birthday celebration. Their baby sitter canceled at the last minute, so they set up their baby monitor and one of them went home to check on Cora every half hour. After all, they were just next door. And so what if they miss the 1 a.m. check; they’ll be home soon. But sometime between the last check at 12:30 a.m. and their return home around 1:30 a.m., Cora vanished.
Police detectives Rasbach and Jennings can find no evidence that anyone came into the house after the couple’s last bed check. The townhouses where the couples live share a wall, but no one heard anything during the party. As the police scour the upstate New York town, a few clues – and a lot of inconsistencies – show up.
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While the couple’s fears for their daughter’s well-being seem genuine, the detectives have misgivings. Could the Contis have harmed their child and faked the kidnapping to cover up their actions? Or did the kidnapper know that Anne’s parents are uber-wealthy? Each aspect of their life becomes fodder for the investigation – from Anne’s postpartum depression to Marco’s business dealings.
Twists are subtly revealed with aplomb, taking the story to increasingly unpredictable levels. Lapena delves deep to show how the stress of Cora’s disappearance affects the story’s characters, from the Contis to Anne’s parents to even the detectives.
“The Couple Next Door” is a well-sculpted domestic thriller.