‘The Couple Next Door’ by Shari Lapena

A baby is kidnapped while the parents are just next door at a dinner party. The babysitter had cancelled and it was suggested that it wouldn’t be ok to bring the baby along to the event, so…with the baby just on the other side of the wall, it would work to bring along the baby monitor and they would go check every half hour right?…what could go wrong? Well, of course mayhem does in fact ensue, with many small twists and turns to keep the reader interested along the way. It did make me think about the McCann case, a British couple whose child disappeared from a holiday home in Portugal, because unfairly often the poor grief-stricken parents themselves become suspects.

Marketed as a psychological page-turning thriller, it was not as great as the hype surrounding this book, and it was just ok for me. I happily finished it, but there was nothing very scary or remarkable about it and it was quite predictable. The characters were two dimensional stereotypes and at times annoying in their stupidity. The last thriller I read (I See You) had a far more chilling surprise ending and seemed much more realistic. A superior novel about a child kidnapping is Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean.

I suppose as commercial fiction this book was readable enough, much like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, but I am hungry for something more literary now. Thrillers have their place as an occasional treat (like potato chips or chocolate) but a steady diet will leave you feeling filled up with the wrong thing entirely. On to something more nutritious and edifying!

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