I went through a reading slump in the second half of 2016. Blame it on the siren song of social media. Blame it on the election. I couldn’t sit down and finish a book to save my life. I found other things to occupy my time. I cooked a lot. I started learning Polish. (Check out our foreign language instructional CD’s, Nonfiction 491.85.) But in the end, a bibliophile needs a book.
The cure for a slump? A book that hooks you in hard and fast. A lot of twists and turns. A surprise ending doesn’t hurt. Gone Girl on steroids. The book that finally brought me out of my doldrums was The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.
New parents Anne and Marco Conti have been invited to a dinner party next door. The babysitter cancels at the last minute and the Contis make a fateful decision to leave the infant in her crib and go. They diligently check on their daughter every thirty minutes, but upon their return the baby has disappeared.
A call to 911 brings Detective Rasbach to the case and what follows is a roller coaster ride of an investigation that leaves everyone doubting themselves. Did a stranger take the baby? Were the parents responsible? Was this a random act or something that was planned? Who else knew the child was alone and how?
The author is meticulous about showing each character’s dark side. No one is spared the microscope and everyone seems to have the potential to do something unsavory. (Okay, maybe not the baby.) There are unlikable characters in abundance. This ramps up the mystery-factor and makes it very difficult to guess who the perpetrator will be.
If you make it to page seven, I guarantee you will feel compelled to keep going. Give it seven pages and see what you think. Happy reading!