At the outset of Shari Lapena’s first novel, Anne and Marco Conti are enjoying a rare night out at a dinner party next door. Their babysitter canceled at the last minute, so the Contis have brought along their baby monitor and are taking turns every half hour to go back to their place and check on six-month-old Cora. When the party wraps at one a.m., Anne and Marco return home to find their front door ajar—and Cora gone.
Detective Rasbach arrives at the scene, and suspects the Contis know more about their child’s disappearance than they’re admitting. There’s also tension between Marco and his father-in-law, and Anne’s wealthy parents may have been the real targets for ransom.
And what to make of the fact Anne can’t remember what her own baby was wearing the last time she saw her? Rasbach is determined to get to the truth, even if everyone he encounters seems intent on hiding it from him.
The prose is wooden, often stating the obvious (“The truth is there. It’s always there. It only needs to be uncovered.”), and the omniscient narrative voice makes it hard to form a clear picture of anyone. But this last quality works in the novel’s favor, because it means any or all of the cryptic characters could be guilty of something. The plot turns are many, and though not particularly shocking, they speed this psychological thriller along toward a satisfying ending.
This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.