The Couple Next Door by Shri Lapena
I could have read The Couple Next Door by Shri Lapena in a day. This book is the definition of a page turner. In fact, I read the book in just over a week because I didn’t want it to end.
Marco and Anne are invited to their perfect next neighbours’ dinner party, the only trouble is their babysitter has cancelled on them. Anne and Marco decided what harm could possible come to their six month old daughter Cora and leave her home alone with the idea they will check on her every half an hour. Trouble is when they return in the early hours to Cora, she’s gone.
In the space of half an hour, Marco has cheated on his wife with next door neighbour Cynthia and has arranged for the kidnap of his own child, all behind his fragile wife’s back.
Until about three quarters of the way through the book we are left pondering what has happened to Cora and it’s not until the police suspect Marco is the culprit that he comes clean to his wife. With a failing business and wealthy in laws, Marco has repeatedly asked them for loans. Normally they have given him more money no question, however this time they refuse. Then Marco meets ‘Bruce’ during his usual 5pm drink at the pub to drown his sorrows over his failing business. Bruce suggests the absurd idea of staging a kidnap and asking his in-laws for the ransom money, as Marco is at his wits end, he agrees.
Trouble is when Cora isn’t returned after the agreed length of time he starts to panic. He goes to the discussed meeting place and finds ‘Bruce’ dead and no Cora.
Anne, then finds a phone when cleaning the house and immediately thinks it’s a secret phone for her husband’s liaisons with Cynthia. But Marco comes clean and explains the phone was for him and Bruce. But when Anne’s father in law, Richard, calls the phone, alarm bells start ringing as to how he got hold of the phone.
Turns out Richard was friends with ‘Bruce’, which isn’t actually his name and then killed him to make it look like Marco did it. Richard has never liked Marco and thought by helping suggest the idea of the kidnap and knowing how desperate his son in law is for money, he could frame him. It winds up with Richard being arrested and Marco being let off if he helps with the investigation.
Just when you thinks it’s over. Anne pays Cynthia a visit and returns home holding a knife covered in blood.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it showed mental health at it’s most dangerous – a husband struggling to support his family financially and looking for any way to get money and a wife with post-natal depression, thinking irrationally and not having the support she need.