The most amazing thing about this book was that it was a great read without a single sympathetic character (the detective doesn’t count because we never get to know him). I loved that it was written in present tense–it was almost like an extended episode of “Dragnet”/police procedural–except told from different points-of-view (though I still think writing from different points-of-view is lazy and takes some of the mystery away).
As it so often happens, I couldn’t figure out why Marco and Anne fell in love with each other, but then, this book wasn’t about that; it didn’t make you care about them as a couple–only about what happened to their baby. The fact that these parents would leave their baby home alone (monitor or not) while at a drinking and dinner party next door, even with them going so far as to check on her every five minutes, seemed neglectful at worst and poor judgment at best.
Though I could sympathize with Anne adjusting to her new role, and though I realize not every character is a God-fearing Christian (nor would I want them to be), but the use of of g-d always hits a sour note; it never adds anything to a story but rather, it takes something away from it.
Detective Rasbach was basically Joe Friday–a blank canvas whose whole life is police work, whose vocation is his identity. Strangely, he was my favorite character, and I hope Lapena uses him in all her books.
Lapena did a great job in making sure there weren’t too many characters in the book, though there could’ve been more sensory details–even a sense of place. This story seemed like it was happening anytime, anywhere, and what man, if he’s committing adultery in the twenty-first century, has a book of matches? Isn’t that so 1950’s? And what’s with leaving the window open while your baby is sleeping? Marco and Anne are well-to-do–they have air conditioning.
The plot was an ingenious one, and the denouement was fantastic, though I think the epilogue was anticlimactic. The author wrote what she wanted to happen rather than what would’ve made a better story.
However, this was incredibly well-done for a debut novel–a little foreshadowing would’ve made it shine.
I look forward to more of Ms. Lapena’s works.