Into the Water by best-selling author Paula Hawkins is not an easy read. Each of the first chapters is told from the point of view of a new character, and I found myself flipping back to the beginning as I read through the book, trying to remember who everyone was. Plus, the book keeps jumping back and forth in time, with multiple flashbacks, so I struggled to figure out what happened when.
Once I finally got used to Hawkins’ writing style, however, I enjoyed the plot as the author explored why a number of young women had drowned in the river over the years, including two in the past six months.
As in Hawkins’ previous novel, The Girl on the Train, men were behind all the evil things that happened to the women. Whether it was villagers drowning a suspected witch, a PTSD veteran mistreating his wife, a male teacher seducing a teenage student, a high school jock raping his girlfriend’s sister, or an incompetent policeman bungling an investigation, the men are at fault in this book. The women have their flaws also, but are the victims, not the perpetrators, of crime. None of them are strong enough to fight back and take control of their lives. They drift through life as bad things happen to them.
As the mystery winds to its conclusion, Hawkins does a good job of dispensing misleading clues. I did not identify the real murderer of Nel Abbott until the very end. Even then, I had to read the last paragraph twice to make sure I knew what had happened. Into the Water is a challenging book which develops into an intriguing mystery. It’s not nearly as straightforward as The Girl on the Train, but worth the effort to dig through characters’ memories and emotions to find the truth.