Thursday Thriller Audio: The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: HarperAudio (August 2, 2022)
Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
Narrator: Kenton Thomas
Imagine moving into a new house with the hope of turning it into your dream home, only to uncover the remains of two bodies on the property while the contractors were digging in your backyard. This has become the reality for Saffron Cuttler in The Couple at Number 9, our pregnant young protagonist who has just inherited the quaint cottage from her beloved grandma Rose, currently suffering from Alzheimer’s and living out her last days a nursing home.
Now Saffron and her boyfriend Tom are left reeling with the discovery as forensics determine that the bodies were buried at least thirty years ago, and detectives turn their investigation to Rose, the previous owner. At the time, there had also been a tenant renting at the cottage, a mysterious woman known only as Daphne. Currently there are no leads found on her, and the only witness who could tell the police anything about the victims is Saffron’s grandmother who can’t help because of her severe dementia. However, those closest to the old woman, namely Saffron and her mother Lorna, suspect that Rose actually does remember something, and the challenge now is getting her to reveal her secrets.
There is an intriguing mystery here, involving three generations of women who each hold in their possession a fragment of a bigger puzzle. It all begins with Saffron, whose life has been upended by the nightmare of the discovery as all of the nation’s media outlets descend upon her once quiet small town to cover the story. She and Tom have no choice but to try and keep their cool as the investigation continues, exhausting lead after lead. A new energy is soon injected into the novel in the form of Lorna, Saffron’s eccentric and larger-than-life mother who flies in from Spain to be her pregnant daughter’s emotional cheerleader. The two of them can’t be any more different, and yet there is also a clear bond there despite some difficult history and past hang-ups.
Then there’s Rose, the key to this whole enigma. The book employs multiple POVs and dual timelines in telling its story, alternating between modern times and the 1980s. We get to hear from all three women, though Rose’s chapters are probably the most interesting and—perhaps not surprisingly—the most revealing when it comes to clues that help unlock the mystery behind the buried bodies. In the present, Rose may be the shell of her old self, but in the past, she was a force to be reckoned with—a woman ahead of her time, strong-filled and independent.
Ironically, the least likeable character for me was probably Saffron, though it’s entirely possible that is because she was completely overshadowed by both Rose and Lorna, a formidable woman in her own right who took charge most of the time from her more helpless, passive daughter.
I also wasn’t completely sold by the plot, which felt rather standard for mystery novel, and I was not overly taken by any of the twists either, which I felt were too unrealistic. What I did like though, and what I thought was the book’s greatest strength, was how the story focused on the theme of family and was essentially a story of mothers and daughters sleuthing together and supporting each other. It was an entertaining read, more suspenseful than thrilling. A recommended pick if you like mysteries that explore relatable family issues and real-life struggles.
Audiobook Comments: This was a new narrator for me, and while usually I prefer multi-POV books to be read by multiple narrators, I think Kenton Thomas did a great job with all three main characters reading with a pleasant accent and a presence that held my full attention for the entire novel.