Review of Into The Water
Paula Hawkins’ debut crime novel The Girl On The Train was a phenomenal success, selling millions all over the world, inspiring a film adaptation starring Emily Blunt, and, along with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, securing the popularity of the psychological thriller genre (particularly for psychological thrillers with the word ‘girl’ in the title!). But how do you follow up such an amazing bestseller?
"even more accomplished than The Girl On The Train"
Into The Water is Hawkins’ second crime novel, and in many ways it is even more accomplished than The Girl On The Train. It follows the lives of a number of characters in the small village of Beckford, which has an alarming history of women who have died in its waters, at a place known as ‘The Drowning Pool’. From a witch drowned there in medieval times, to various murders and suicides, the place is notorious. The novel begins with one more woman whose body is found there, Nel, who was in the process of writing a book about the pool. But did she really commit suicide, or was she pushed?
Jules is Nel’s estranged sister, who has not been back to her home village of Beckford for many years, and returns there now in the wake of her sister’s death. She is tasked with looking after her teenage niece, Nel’s daughter Lena, who she has never met before. Lena is not pleased to have Jules enter her life, and is also convinced that her mother killed herself. Jules, in turn, finds returning to Beckford painful, as she is keeping a traumatic secret from her past. Why did Jules and Nel fall out all those years ago?
It soon transpires that, just months earlier, another woman died in Beckford’s waters. Katie was Lena’s best friend, and she committed suicide at the Drowning Pool. Katie’s mother Louise has been devastated by her daughter’s unexpected death, and blames Nel for filling Katie’s head with the history of the pool, and encouraging her to dwell on death and the dark side of life. She’s also angry that Nel was writing a chapter about Katie after her death. But why did Katie really kill herself?
The story is told from several characters’ points of view, including Jules, Lena and Louise. There’s also Katie’s brother Josh, Katie and Lena’s teacher Mark, and the local psychic Nickie. We hear from Erin, a police officer who is new to the area and sees events from the perspective of an outsider, as well as Sean, the policeman in charge of the case, whose own mother also died in the Pool many years ago. There’s also Sean’s wife Helen, who is uncertain of her husband’s loyalty, and Sean’s father Patrick, who has his own secrets and suspicions. Interspersed with all these narratives are extracts from Nel’s book The Drowning Pool, which sensationalises its history whilst also revealing long forgotten secrets.
As the novel progresses, we slowly learn about the hidden depths of Beckford, and the tension is heightened with each revelation. With a much bigger cast of characters than The Girl On The Train, Into The Water is a more complex and ambitious novel. It’s also more unpredictable, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns which will delight any psychological thriller fan. Already a bestseller, it cements Paula Hawkins’ reputation as a skilful crime writer, and proves that she is far from a one-trick pony.
Written by Ruth, Marketing