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Search tags: Shari-Lapena
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review 2019-01-13 17:12
A Thousand Nos
The Couple Next Door: A Novel - Shari Lapena

Sometimes you read a book that you can't believe is so bad you just keep reading it. This was one of those books. The shifting narratives don't work, you pretty much know who did what it's just a wait for the cops to figure it out. The only reason why I didn't zero star this thing was the ending which made me go, huh. 

 

"The Couple Next Door" follows Anne and Marco Conti. A happily married couple (or it appears to be so) with a new baby girl at home, they are out of the house for the night. They are next door at their neighbor's helping to celebrate the husband's (Gregory) birthday. Anne is distressed though, she didn't want to leave their daughter Cora at home, and their neighbor forbid them to bring the baby (who does that?) and when Anne and Marco return home, they find their daughter missing. The book follows the investigation of who could have taken Cora and why. 

 

I think if Lapena had stayed with following Anne and including some narrative from detective Rasbach that it would have worked. Rasbach was investigating things and coming up with information on Anne and Marco. I rather it would have been delivered without readers knowing about it, or without us hearing about it from other characters first. The whole book read as lackluster as anything.

 

Lapena provides POVs from Anne, Marco, Detective Rashbach, and the Conti's next door neighbor, Cynthia. And we get some narration from Anne's father. I think he popped up twice. I only really liked Rasbach's POV. Though in the end he didn't solve much of anything since he is told what really went on in the end.

 

The writing was a disappointment. I just felt at times I was being spoonfed everything and it just got boring. The flow was pretty bad too. Probably because we kept jumping around to these four people with some additions from Anne's father here and there. I think we even got Anne's mother too. I just can't even remember anymore since this book just had a bit too much going on. 

 

The ending was a surprise. Probably the only thing that was while I was reading this. 

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text 2019-01-12 17:37
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Couple Next Door: A Novel - Shari Lapena

Wow. This was next level terrible. 

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review 2018-11-18 22:37
Good mystery; take on plane or trip to the beach.
An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Guest, Shari Lapena, author; Hillary Huber, narrator

This is a quick, creative mystery that holds the reader’s attention fast. Several groups of people travel to a beautiful, quiet, romantic inn to spend the weekend. One couple wants to salvage a marriage; another is looking forward to one. Each of them seems to have a hidden story in their past which causes them some kind of mental and emotional conflict. A snowstorm hits the area, and they are stranded at the inn without power or phone service. Only six of the twelve rooms are occupied because of the weather. When guests begin to die under suspicious circumstances, the survivors begin to panic and accuse each other. Who is killing the innocent bystanders? Is it a serial killer? Could it be one of the guests? As the tension builds, they are all forced to confess their sins. They are forced to wonder who among them is capable of murder, and then they wonder about what they could be capable of, as well. The finger of suspicion points to each in turn.

The book is narrated superbly. It is as if the one telling the story is observing it from a distance, as a bystander, interpreting each character’s behavior, reactions and emotions perfectly so that none overlap and merge together. Each character develops on his/her own and is identifiable throughout. The guests represent a cross section of the population with regard to profession, past, sexual preference and wealth. Each has some personal problem they are struggling to resolve. Will this romantic getaway solve their problems or will it turn into a nightmare for them?

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review 2018-11-07 18:30
An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena

A special thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Lapena's debut The Couple Next Door was an instant hit and received rave reviews and I thought it was a solid effort.  Admittedly, I was underwhelmed by her second book, A Stranger in the House, and was unsure if I was going to give this one a go.  An Unwanted Guest is on par with The Couple Next Door and that was a 3 out of 5 stars.  It takes place at a secluded hotel and what unfolds is a thriller that is reminiscent of a classic mystery—think Agatha Christie.  

 

Mitchell's Inn, nestled in the Catskills, boasts a cozy atmosphere.  The stately rooms feature woodburning fireplaces and have just the right amount of nostalgia to be quaint, including no Wi-Fi or cell service.  

 

When a winter storm knocks out the power, all contact with the outside world is cut off.  The guests try to make the best of the situation until one of them turns up dead.  At first it appears to be an accident, but then a second guest dies and panic sets in.    

 

With everyone being a suspect, the guests have no choice but to weather the storm and each other.  

 

I liked how Lapena juxtaposed the violence of the storm against the violent acts of murder and thought the premise was very good.  The atmosphere and description saved the book because I was simply tired of the repetitious thoughts about who the killer is—the reader does not need to be reminded that each character needs to figure out which one of them is the killer.  Isn't that the whole point of the book?  

 

 

What baffles me is how removed Lapena is and this is the difference between 3 and 4 stars (to which she absolutely has the potential).  Given that it is told from multiple points of view, this should be a character-driven novel because the characters ought to have enough depth and ultimately are responsible for propelling the narrative.  But there is simply not enough distinction between their voices and for the most part, it feels like there is only one narrator.

 

I haven't given up on Lapena yet—she does has a way of engaging the reader right of the bat.  For the most part, her characters are well developed but their inner dialogues need work and she needs to ensure that they have a distinct voice if relying on their perspectives to tell the story.     

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review 2018-09-13 05:44
An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena

An isolated luxurious hotel in the mountains, assorted secretive people who have come to spend a weekend, away from it all. All is great until an ice storm hits, cutting them off from civilisation, then all hell breaks loose. Reads very much like an Agatha Christie type of book, so great for people who like “whodunnits” with a slightly sinister feel. Sadly the way it was written really let the story down - it was stilted and awkward and with so many people having their say, a bit muddled. I read it all as I enjoy murder mysteries but I was left feeling disappointed by this book.

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