“No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.”
― Paula Hawkins,
Since her very successful psychological drama, The Girl on the Train, was published in 2015, fans have been eagerly awaiting Paula Hawkins’ second thriller Into the Water. According to her website, Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before trying her hand at fiction writing. She came out with a slew of romantic comedy novels under her pen name, Amy Silver, but eventually decided to use her real name to write thriller novels- good decision Paula!
The people of Beckford, a small town in the British Isles, are struggling to come to terms with the death of Nel Abbott, a single mother who was found dead in a river. It is quickly revealed that she is not the only person to have met their untimely death in the river, or “Drowning Pool” as it is known to the locals. It was the legends surrounding these mysterious deaths that attracted Nel Abbott to the river in the first place. After her own death, she leaves behind an unfinished manuscript about the women who had died in the river, as well as a fifteen-year-old daughter.
Hawkins has built a multi-character story in which the truths, and the memories inhabiting the town, become a puzzle of doubts, secrets, and redemption. Was Nel Abbott so obsessed with the death associated with the river that she jumped? Or was she pushed? Everyone feels guilty; but nobody is willing to take the blame.
This is an excellent crime thriller! It had the perfect mix of history, albeit fake history, and mystery to keep me on my toes. It was refreshing to see a best-selling author handling different viewpoints, and the ways in which they are continuously shaping our assessments of the characters’ motivations. However, there are eleven character viewpoints. Yes. Eleven. I feel like this is way too many, and it is clear that Hawkins struggled at times to keep the characters distinct from one another. I had to make a list of the characters and their relationship to the victim in order to keep track of who was who!
Although there was slight character confusion, the storyline was never broken and I was actually quite impressed by the number of possible suspects and the twists and turns along the way. I found the plot of Into the Water to be far more sophisticated than the plot of The Girl on the Train, despite the pressure Hawkins must have felt to produce another best-seller. If you are a fan of Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Mary Kubica, or any contemporary thriller author, I am sure you will not be disappointed in Into the Water!