EXCERPT: Anne feels her scream inside her own head and reverberating off the walls – her scream is everywhere. Then she falls silent and stands in front of the empty crib, rigid, her hand to her mouth. Marco fumbles with the light switch. They both stare at the empty crib where their baby should be. It is impossible that she not be there. There is no way Cora could have gotten out of the crib by herself. She is barely six months old.
‘Call the police,’ Anne whispers, then throws up, the vomit cascading over her fingers and onto the hardwood floor as she bends over. The baby’s room, painted a soft buttery yellow with stencils of baby lambs frolicking on the walls, immediately fills with the smell of bile and panic.
Marco doesn’t move. Anne looks up at him. He is paralyzed, in shock, staring at the empty crib, as if he can’t believe it. Anne sees the fear and guilt in his eyes and starts to wail – a horrible keening sound, like an animal in pain.
Marco still doesn’t budge. Anne bolts across the hall to their bedroom, grabs the phone off the bedside table, and dials 911,her hands shaking, getting vomit all over the phone. Marco finally snaps out of it. She can hear him walking rapidly around the second floor of the house while she stares across the hall at the empty crib. He checks the bathroom, at the top of the stairs, then passes quickly by her on his way to search the spare bedroom and then the last room down the hall, the one they have turned into an office. But, even as he does, Anne wonders in a detached way why he is looking there. It is as if part of her mind has split off and is thinking logically. It’s not like their baby is mobile on her own. She is not in the bathroom, or the spare bedroom, or the office.
Someone has taken her.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
MY THOUGHTS: Highly improbable, but extremely entertaining!
Where to start? This was one crazy read. It twisted and turned, then doubled back on itself. It is fast paced and full of lies and deception. Shari Lapena demonstrates great sleight of hand and misdirection in this, her debut novel. She will have your head spinning, and have you doubting every single one of the characters. And don’t expect to like any of the characters. Except maybe Anne’s mom. And that’s only maybe.
My advice? Hang onto your hat, enjoy the ride, and prepare for a crash landing.
THE AUTHOR: Shari Lapena is a Canadian novelist. Lapena was a lawyer and English teacher before beginning her writing career.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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