Crime & Beyond Wiki

March Murder Cakes

Thanks so much to Jose for leading the group while I was away. It's nice to know everything is in good hands. And thanks to Amy for bringing the snacks; no great book discussion happens on an empty stomach (or without sugar).

Below are Jose's notes. I like the term he uses at the end, "domestic thriller." I read an article last month and it talked about that new genre and how it kind of all started to get big around the time of Gone Girl and was made even more popular when movies started to be made of books like Girl on a Train.

From Jose:
We had a very lively and spirited discussion of The Couple Next Door. It was safe to say that most people enjoyed this book and overall it was very well received. The reviews ranged from a 9 as a high (with four readers giving the book that score) and the low score being a 6.5 (it was Kelly, who really liked the book but said she didn’t expect her rating to be considered low in a field of 7’s, 8’s and 9’s). I calculated that the average score was an 8. Truly, this was a book that people enjoyed!

The premise that a baby was left all alone while the child’s parents were next door drinking and having a good time was disturbing to pretty much the whole group. We all felt that it was bad parenting, notwithstanding the fact that the baby was a fussy baby. This brought up good discussion about the things that parents have done, one person sharing that they had seen a baby in a car with the engine running, while the mother was doing the grocery shopping! Amy made what was probably the most memorable comment, that it was amazing that anyone could breed. Hat’s off to one book club member that doesn’t mince words, and does so with a hearty laugh to boot!

Most of the group thought the story was a good one, and very suspenseful. The comments on the book were that the book was very easy to read, several members stating that they read the book really quickly. Dave referred to the book as a “popcorn novel,” you apparently have to be a long time member to know that term (Editors Note: maybe that needs to be added to Daisy on Wiki - Dave please give Kerry a definition). Many liked the pace of the book, and the suspenseful nature of the storytelling which flowed very well, though several agreed that the language used by the author was a pretty simple style. I commented that it was strange that the language was so basic, given that the author is a former lawyer AND an English teacher! Jeff stated that he liked it when he read the book and then found out that Marco was the one who had plotted the kidnapping, stating that this made him wonder what else was forthcoming, while I didn’t care much for the way that revelation was suddenly dropped on us so soon. With regards to the characters, most of us agreed that Anne was pretty messed up psychologically, and the end of the book provided some very very different reactions, some people really enjoying that strange twist but others thinking that part could have been left out. I pointed out that though Marco was the one who kidnapped his own child, that there was a part of me that felt sorry for him since he was just more of a misguided fool, having been deceived by Richard’s friend who made the suggestion to him that he devise this scheme to get money from his father in law. It also appeared that he was trying to redeem himself as well, thus, supporting the fact that maybe he was trying to turn the corner. I guess I was a Marco apologist...what does that say about me? Candidates for being slapped were Graham, because he was just...kind of icky (my words, not anyone’s in the group) and Alice, because she put up with Richard and his nasty ways. The group also speculated on what happened after the strange twist at the end where Anne offs Cynthia with that butcher knife and doesn’t remember doing that. This was an author that didn’t provide much details in her book but that didn’t seem to bother most of the readers. Gail mentioned that the author wrote a subsequent novel (A Stranger in the House) in a similar vein as this one, but that the book was not as good. However, given the ease of the way her books read, it may be worth checking that book out.

So overall, the group enjoyed this domestic thriller, despite it’s simple language style and a little unrealistic twist at the end.

Thanks again Jose, for leading and providing such great notes. See you on April 23 to discuss The Late Show, the first in a new series by Michael Connelly. Dave will lead and Terri will brings snacks.