On my nightstand, I have a tidy stack of books I’m reading across genres. I’ve got classic literary fiction (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith), nonfiction (Complications by Atul Gawande), poetry (A Study of Hands by Edwin Bodney), and even my Kindle with a whole library of digital content. I think any passionate readers can relate to this problem though — even with an entire stack of books next to your bed, you still don’t feel like you have anything to read.
Why? Because I was missing the page-turner! When I discovered The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, the concept seemed simple enough — baby goes missing — and the marketing pull-quotes were just the right formula to convert me down the buying funnel: “razor-sharp”, “twisty”, “shocking”, “exquisitely tortuous tension.” The kind of reviews I would love to get as a writer myself.
Plus, it was half-off! Books Inc. (a bay-area based bookstore chain) has become one of my favorite go-to’s for sale books. They regularly switch out the shelves, and the offerings are almost all quality (I also picked up a Truman Capote book). The final price was $7.98, from the original mark-up of $16.00. The best part is I got to please both of my passions: bargain books and supporting independent book stores!
In one sentence: A couple’s baby is kidnapped, and then blame each other for losing it.
Favorite Line: “They will be judged, by the police and by everybody else. Serves them right, leaving their baby alone. She would think that, too, if it had happened to someone else. She knows how judgmental mothers are, how good it feels to sit in judgement of someone else.” — p. 11
Review: SERIOUSLY, WHERE IS THIS BABY? I absolutely loved how simple this story was. One of the reasons the novel is an effective thriller is because it takes a very simple premise, and allows it all to unravel through the character’s choices. The point of view shifts between the wife, husband, and detective–and each do an excellent job of bringing you a new perspective as alliances shift and the truth is revealed. My ONE grievance is the red herring which relies on vague mental health disorders to deliver some cheap thrills, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself. (That and there could have been a better title as the “couple next door” don’t quite serve at the heart of the tension, neither as characters or as a theme.) If you are looking for that book you can’t put down, and you enjoy a good mystery, this novel is for you.
This Book Would End a Lot Sooner If: the couple had one honest conversation with each other.
The Intersection of Marketing and Publishing:
It turns out the fact that I was sold by the packaging of this book is no coincidence.