Goodreads summary (review below) of The New Couple In 5B By Lisa Unger:
A couple inherits an apartment with a spine-tingling past in this unputdownable thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six.
Rosie and Chad Lowan are barely making ends meet in New York City when they receive life-changing news: Chad’s late uncle has left them his luxury apartment at the historic Windermere in glamorous Murray Hill. With its prewar elegance and impeccably uniformed doorman, the building is the epitome of old New York charm. One would almost never suspect the dark history lurking behind its perfectly maintained facade.
At first, the building and its eclectic tenants couldn’t feel more welcoming. But as the Lowans settle into their new home, Rosie starts to suspect that there’s more to the Windermere than meets the eye. Why is the doorman ever-present? Why are there cameras everywhere? And why have so many gruesome crimes occurred there throughout the years? When one of the neighbors turns up dead, Rosie must get to the truth about the Windermere before she, too, falls under its dangerous spell.
The first book I ever read by Lisa Unger was Confessions on the 7:45, and I loved it (review linked). I have since become a huge fan of hers (but on hiatus for her last two releases). Having said that, The New Couple In 5B is, hands-down, her best yet.
Reason #1- The Windermere
The Windermere doesn’t just become a character in The New Couple in 5B; Lisa Unger turns it into a menacing foe. And it isn’t just the building itself. It is the doorman, Abi, the security system, and the intercom system. It is in every turn, every bad omen, every delusion, ghost, and history. Lisa Unger utilizes the Windermere to bolster feelings of claustrophobia as you read. In short, she simply brings the building to life. A life that might just be the death of all that reside there.
I remind myself that I didn’t choose the Windermere. It chose me… We need to get out before the Windermere poison works its way into our system. Or maybe it’s way too late.
Reason #2- The Characters
As already mentioned, there is the Windermere. Then there are all its inhabitants. There isn’t one resident of The Windermere who Lisa Unger doesn’t breathe life into. They are each distinct, which is quite a feat when there are so many. And each represents part of the mystery, aura, and sinister sides of not just the building but them themselves. Even in a room full of people, Rosie feels the walls closing in, delusions violating her mind. Here’s a long but necessary quote.
When she finally turns her face to me, our eyes lock… I’m pulled in, drawn to her… When she tilts her head up, I let out a cry, almost a shriek- her neck is ruined, swollen purple, blue, black. Her eyes buldge … a tear of blood down her face. She moves toward me, hand outstretched, causing me to back away, terror pulsing through my nerves and veins… Finally, she’s close enough for me to hear. They’re watching. Be careful. You’re – in danger.
The main characters, Rosie, Chad, and Max, are deeply probed. This is especially true of Rosie, who is dealing with a load of trauma from her childhood. Lisa Unger does a fantastic job exploring the impact of one’s childhood on the present.
Abuse, it lives in your body, haunts like a demon.
The dynamics between this threesome are also well put together. Max was previously (if not still) in love with Rosie. Chad and Rosie’s near addiction to each other. Max and Chad’s simmering jealousy towards each other. Every piece is laid out perfectly.
Reason #3- The Plot
Oh my. What a plot Lisa Unger has weaved in The New Couple in 5B. Part mystery, part psychological thriller, and a sprinkle of the paranormal are thrown in the blender. And what comes out is a delicious cocktail that you will try to savor but end up devouring. It is a slow-roll thriller, which fits the atmospheric plot to a tee.
If The New Couple In 5B were to be a fast-paced thriller, you would lose so much of what makes it brilliant. It would lose the claustrophobic feel, the dread that creeps up your spine. The creepiness builds and builds towards an agony of suspense that will destroy you. It would lose the effect of the Windermere and its mysterious residents, along with the perfectly plotted puzzle pieces Lisa Unger drops along the way.
Thank you to Park Row Books and HarperAudio for an advance copy of The Couple In 5B by Lisa Unger, releasing on March 5th.
Reason #4- Unique
Taken by pieces, The Couple In 5B isn’t something that hasn’t been written before. I grant you this. However, I would argue that when taken on the whole of its parts, it is most definitely in a class of its own. There is something about how it comes together, how it layers itself, and then peels all the layers back that is wholly unique. An arguable point? Maybe. But I will die on this hill.
Reason #5- Bonus- Audiobook
Vivienne Leheny was the narrator for Confessions on the 7:45. I was new to audiobooks at that time and didn’t have a grasp of different narrators or connections between their work. I remember loving Vivienne Leheny then, and I adore her voice-over now. She is tasked with bringing to life a laundry list of characters. And she gives each of them the justice they deserve.
It isn’t just that she gives each character their own voice. She takes all of Lisa Unger’s writing and expresses it with every fiber of her being (or it feels like it). Vivienne Leheny nails it whether it is creepy, angry, grief, dark humor, or sinister.