I greatly enjoyed Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, “Girl on the Train.” I read it as an audiobook and found it compelling and interesting from beginning to end. A twisty thriller with unreliable narrators and shifting truths that kept you on your toes. I was thus excited to embark on her second novel, “Into the Water” but did not have the same experience and won’t be recommending this one to others.
A sleepy English town is rocked by the “suicide” by water of one of its citizens. Folks were still reeling from the suicide of a young girl in the drowning pool, which was a sordid history of which drownings and the like. There is a estranged sister dynamic, a father/son dynamic, a jezebel situation, a crazy psychic lady, a Lolita situation, a big town lady cop sent to the village, and a hushed up rape angle. Yeeeeeah. So, my main criticism is she tried to do waaaay too much. Too many characters, all of them unlikable to the point of irredeemable. Any three plot points would have been a great book, but the plot holes had plot holes and the story became fantastic in the sense of unbelievable. The final twist was actually neat, but it took too much and too long to get there, so that the payoff was unsuccessful.
If she writes another I’ll give it a go, as Girl on the Train was quite good. I had a similar experience with Gillian Flynn where I liked two of her three books, so I’ll give Hawkins the same shake, but if her next doesn’t hook me I probably won’t soldier through like I did this time.