Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I started this book with much trepidation in light of many lackluster reviews piling up on Amazon. The story centers around the Drowning Pool, a spot on a river that runs through an English town, where troubled women leap to their deaths from the cliff above. It is a spot with a long history of victims dating back to the witch trials.  The crux of the story focuses on the most recent victim, Nel, who leaves behind her teenage daughter Lena.  Nel’s sister, Jules, comes from London to take care of the aftermath.

There are a couple subplots here surrounding earlier victims of the Drowning Pool.  Lead detective Sean Townsend was a young boy when his mother Lauren killed herself over 20 years ago.  Lena’s best friend Katie died not long before Nel.

The chief complaint of many reviews is that there are too many characters telling the story.  Yes, there are many viewpoints but I found each to be distinct and easy to follow.  Voices include Jules, Lena, Katie’s mother Louise and her brother Josh, school teacher Mark, town psychic Nickie, Sean, Sean’s wife Helen, Sean’s father Patrick and assistant investigator Erin Morgan.  Nel was not well-liked because she was dredging up the past working on a book chronicling the history of the Drowning Pool women.  A couple older victims appear as excerpts from her book, set in a different font to further distinguish them from the present day voices.

Personally, I liked this book better than her earlier book  The Girl on the Train, where the similarities of the two women and before/after time frames were very hard to distinguish. There are a couple loose ends where things are implied.  Start it when you can dedicate a solid 30-45 minutes to read through each voice before taking a break.  The multiple voices serve to set a foundation of doubt and suspicion.  Did the women commit suicide or was it just made to appear so?  Essentially the reader is unraveling the stories surrounding Nel, Katie and Lauren.  Not a nail biter but leads to some unexpected conclusions.

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