The Couple Next Door by Shri Lapena

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Girls by Emma Cline

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The Girls by Emma Cline

Everywhere I seem to go everyone is reading Emma Cline’s The Girls. Reading the blurb I thought  it was my kind of book – mysterious, dreamy and dangerous.

Upon reading the first few pages I was intrigued however after the first hundred pages it wasn’t at all how I thought it would be.

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Evie Boyd is a teenager in California wanting to be part of the ‘cool’ gang. She bumps into Suzanne, the kind of girl that every girl of that age either wants to be or needs to be best friends with. Quickly ditching her small circle of friends, Evie becomes part of the gang. Partying in the desert, drinking and taking drugs until the early hours all become part of the norm.

And centred around the gang is Russell, every girl wants him to notice them. Obviously ring leader Suzanne is hooking up with Russell and you get the impression he has fathered several of the children belonging to the girls in the group. Russell is a want to be musician who the girls believe will be the next big thing.

Evie is also taken in by Russell and sleeps with him much to Suzanne’s horror. Evie will do anything to be accepted and be a fully fledged member of the groups and reeks of that teenage need to please and become ‘cool’.

Then there is Mitch, already a famous musician, the girls also worship at this feet as they believe he can get Russell a record deal. When that falls through, the repercussions have tragic consequences. The girls drop Evie in the middle of nowhere before heading to Mitch’s place and murdering his crew of followers.

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Evie recounts the story in retrospect and with some clarity believes she was not part of the murder because they knew she was better than the group and perhaps not ever really accepted by them.

The biggest thing for me was the novel lacked any sort of depth, it didn’t dive into the character’s feelings and surroundings, I felt, as much as it should have. Perhaps this was Cline’s point, that there was no depth to these girls however I felt their actions were not justified because of this.

From the hype around this book I thought I would be closing the book and thinking what a masterpiece instead I have been left wondering what all the fuss is about.

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