Shari Lapena has written other books, but this is her first mystery.
Anne and Marco Conti look like the ideal couple. They seem to have a loving relationship, a beautiful home in upstate New York and a healthy baby girl named Cora. Anne worked in an art gallery before she was married and Marco has degrees in business and computer science. He started his own company called Conti Software Design and was successful on his own.
When Anne was four years old, her father died. Her mother, Alice, remarried a wealthy businessman named Richard Dries. Alice is a multimillionaire in her own rights. When Anne fell in love with Marco, her parents were not pleased. They felt that Anne could do much better, since Marco came out of a lower middle class family who came from Italy.
After the birth of Cora, Anne suffers from postpartum depression. When her neighbour, Cynthia Stillwell invites the Contis to a birthday party that she is giving for her husband, Graham, who is turning forty, Marco thinks it would be nice for Anne to get out. So Anne arranges for a babysitter to come and mind Cora. However, the babysitter, Katerina, cancels the very last minute due to a death in the family. Marco convinces Anne to go to the dinner party next door, but they will take turns checking on the baby every half hour. Cynthia is a beautiful woman and with a few drinks in her, she is coming on to Marco and he doesn't mind it at all. The last time Marco checks on the baby, it is 12:30 a.m. and Cora is fine. They leave the Stillwells at about 1:00 a.m. and find the front door ajar. Anne goes quickly upstairs and the baby is gone. Someone has kidnapped Cora.
They immediately call the police and Detective Rasbach arrives and begins the questioning. He learns that Anne is suffering from postpartum depression and that Marco's business is in trouble. He makes a search around the house and the garage and notices that the garage door is opened.He takes it up with Marco, but something doesn't sit well with Detective Rasbach. He discusses the situation with Detective Jennings. The questioning goes on to Cynthia Stillwell, Anne's parents and several others.
No sooner do you think you know who the guilty one is, Lapena changes the story direction and you're left out in the cold. All the characters seem to be telling lies and hiding something and very slowly, the secrets are disclosed by the author.
Shari Lapena has written a smart story that is very well paced. The Couple Next Door is filled with twists and turns and it will hold your interest from beginning to end.
I loved this book and I can highly recommend it.