Fans of The Girl on the Train will be eagerly awaiting this second stand alone thriller and wanting it to be equally successful for author Paula Hawkins. Psychological thriller is really not the genre to pick if you are going to be a one hit wonder! Having read it I would say we can all relax – it’s not going to disappoint!
Hawkins has chosen to use the rotating narration style again but this time we have a broader cast of main characters rather than one heroine and this in my view gives the novel a more rounded plot.
To summarise without giving away more than you need to know, the book opens with the death of single mother Nel (Danielle) Abbott whose body is found in the river running through the small town of Beckford. She leaves behind her fifteen year old daughter Lena and estranged sister Juliet (Jules) who is forced back to the town to care for her niece and try to uncover the circumstances surrounding her sister’s death. In the process this exposes other secrets of the town and it’s notorious river which has previously claimed the lives of other women in it’s sinister history. The novel exposes the interwoven relationships in this small town with big secrets.
The timescale of events is quite short over just a few months with the main storyline building over a 2 week period in August. However the chapters are interspersed with extracts from Nel’s book about the history of the river and the women who have drowned in it. This gives the main story more depth (pardon the pun!) and helps to build up a picture of the more recent tragedies giving us more clues as to how these tragic deaths might be linked.
The multiple viewpoints help us to build up a picture and question the various accounts of the same events. Some of the characters are not very well developed but they all serve a purpose in moving us towards the reveal. Through each of them we gain insights into the same events from the different viewpoints and we gradually learn the true histories of each character.
What Hawkins does so well is capture the psychology of relationships, both those stretching back years and newfound friendships. It also explores the idea that memories and emotion can conspire to deceive us.
The twists and turns keep the reader engaged and the number of possible suspects is a plus. It is clear that Hawkins has improved her writing skills since Girl On A Train and produced a much more rounded, slick and stylish read.
The theme of water and the river are constant and provide a moody, cinematically atmospheric feel to the story. Like The Girl on the Train it could easily be transferred to the big screen but please not another US adaptation !
A very enjoyable read. 8 out 10.
Tracy – Northwood Hills Library