A review by leahsbooks
The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena

dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

My first thought was that I was going to hate this audiobook, but I figured it deserved more than half a chapter. I'm glad that I didn't listen to that first thought, because it turned out to be much better than I initially expected.

It's the quintessential story of what lies beneath - the secrets that families hold. And it seems like the more money people have, the more secrets they have, and the more closely these secrets are guarded. So when Anne and Marco's baby is kidnapped while they are at a dinner party at their neighbor's house, these secrets are about to be unearthed. 

It all seems pretty straightforward at first - find out who kidnapped baby Cora. But as Detective Rasbach investigates, it seems like everyone has secrets and no one wants to fess up to any of them. The only one that comes out right away is that Anne and Marco left their 6 month old baby at home alone while they went to the party; but they brought a baby monitor and checked on her every half hour. 

None of the main characters were easy to like (outside of Detective Rasbach), although some are a little less deplorable than others. Just when I thought that I had things figured out, some new plot twist appeared and I wasn't ever really sure of anything until the end. It was fast moving and I couldn't stop listening, even as I started despising the vast majority of the characters. I especially didn't like how focused Anne was on her weight/body, not losing baby weight fast enough, and comparing her body to the body of her neighbor who hasn't had a child. If it was mentioned once, it wouldn't have been too bad, but it came up frequently and felt a bit fatphobic, especially since no one else mentioned it other than Anne herself.

I wasn't a huge fan of the narrator, and found that her voice didn't necessarily match with what I would have personally pictured Anne's voice to sound like. However, she did a great job with conveying Anne's thoughts and frantic emotions throughout the kidnapping. My other main issue was with the writing style. The author used "he/she says" so frequently that it often felt like that was the only term that was used during dialogue, and it quickly became incredibly repetitive. It began to become distracting with how often it was used. 

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