The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a debut domestic noir. True to its genre, the story starts with a sense of unease, where the protagonist, Anne, is at a dinner party hosted by her next-door neighbours. Her neighbour, Cynthia, is openly flirting with Marco (Anne’s husband) and Anne just wants to go home to be with her baby. But things turn more sinister when Anne and Marco return home to find their baby missing.
The story centres around the search for the baby, where nobody is beyond suspicion. It is full of deceit and betrayal, where everybody has something to hide. Small secrets and lies all add up; with twists and turns at every corner.
The story will make parents everywhere question their own judgement. The peace of mind of having a baby alarm; just how safe is it? I liked how each apparently inconsequential scene had a knock-on effect and built towards the bigger picture. The ending spoilt it a bit for me; but other readers might like this additional twist.
My 16-year-old son, who is dyslexic, has never enjoyed reading, but this book has made him think differently. The third person omniscient narrative uses colloquial language and is structured around fairly short chapters. Alongside an intriguing plot, this added up to a great read that was very different to some of the classics he has had to endure at school; making him realise there are some great books out there and reading is not as boring as he thought!
This is a great debut and I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Sister is the debut novel by Louise Jensen. I first came across this author’s work by
accident when browsing the book section in Tesco where I spotted Sister and was intrigued with the book’s synopsis which showed it was within the domestic noir genre.
The book is written in a first-person narrative and from the outset the reader is plunged straight into heart-pounding suspense where we see the protagonist (Grace) alone in the dark woods. The next scene moves to the protagonist’s domestic setting allowing the reader to feel a bit ‘safer’ and out of danger, whilst still being intrigued as to what is in the box that Grace has dug up in the woods.
The story centres around Grace trying to find out what it is her deceased best friend (Charlie) is sorry for, and also trying to find Charlie’s birth father. The novel is structured in an alternate present and past/flashback form; taking the reader back to Grace’s school years and letting the reader in on the story’s exposition in an intriguing way. True to its genre, the novel is full of unreliable characters and full of twists and turns, where seemingly small acts of chance are actually not coincidence at all.
I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t wait to read the next book by this author. Luckily, as I came across this author a bit further down the line in her career I was able to buy the next book straight away, and her third book came out shortly after. I can’t believe this is a debut novel and accordingly give it a thoroughly deserved ***** (5 star) rating.
This novel is currently just £2 for the paperback on Amazon! Bargain go buy it NOW!