Into the Water: A Novel

by Paula Hawkins

Hardcover, 2017

Call number





Riverhead Books (2017), Edition: 1st Edition, 400 pages


"The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with Into the Water, her addictive new novel of psychological suspense. A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged. Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from--a place to which she vowed she'd never return. With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present. Beware a calm surface--you never know what lies beneath"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member JJbooklvr
Let me start by saying I loved The Girl on the Train. This is not the same book. But it doesn't need to be. We still have a story told through multiple points of view, unreliable narrators, and a number of unlikable characters. Then we add in small town secrets and paranoia to go along with a
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history of enough women drowning in a section of the local river that it is renamed the drowning pool. The plot moves along like the river in that it has its slow points and then we pick up the pace as the many layers of the story are finally revealed in an ending you will probably guess. At least I did. Still the journey had enough twists I did not see coming that it made for an enjoyable ride.
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LibraryThing member ouroborosangel
For full review and to read my other reviews go to

Into the Water (ITW going forward) by Paula Hawkins is a book about two women who have drowned in…the Drowning Pool. It is here, legend holds, that witches were drowned and countless women have committed suicide.

Early in ITW,
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Hawkins uses a compelling story-telling device. She tells the story in one character’s viewpoint, in the next chapter shows us the same events from another’s perspective, and then that character takes over the story until the next chapter. If this way of writing was sustained throughout, ITW would be spectacular! Unfortunately, this is not the case. Paula Hawkins, she of Girl on the Train fame, has written ITW from the point of view of ALL of the following:

Danielle ‘Nel’ Abbot (deceased) – via a manuscript of her unpublished book
Jules Abbot – sister to Nel Abbot (also called Julia often/confusingly)
Lena Abbot – daughter of Nel Abbot
Mark Henderson – teacher
Erin Morgan – inspector
Nickie Sage – charleton or medium
Helen Townsend – wife of Sean
Patrick Townsend – father of Sean
Sean Townsend – inspector
Josh Whittaker – brother to Katie
Louise Whittaker – mother of Katie
Lauren, Libby and Katie (deceased) – drowned women

(Feel free to print this list and use it while reading the book. It may be the only way you can remember everyone and how they relate to the story. I found myself looking back to earlier chapters to figure out who was speaking well into the middle of the book. While compiling the above list, I had to refer back to the book to figure out the cast and how they related to each other – even after finishing the book!)

Hawkins would have better served her characters, and her readers, had she focused solely on Jules’ and Lena’s viewpoints and Nel Abbot’s manuscript.

Having just finished reading, I can tell you that I am truly, deeply disappointed with this ending. The only real twist in ITW was related to the reason behind the two sister’s bitter, long-lasting feud. After this first startling reveal, I expected sweeping revelation after sweeping revelation to close out the novel. Unfortunately, I was only to be let down by the resolution of the rest of the story lines – and no remaining shocks, surprises, or twists to hold my attention to the end.
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LibraryThing member terran
Once I got the characters straightened out by writing myself notes about them, this book was easier to read. Julia has avoided her older sister for years, but has to return to her childhood home after learning that Nel has drowned. leaving a motherless teen-aged daughter. There are family secrets
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in every family in the village--evidently no one talked to anyone else in her family for generations. Thank goodness the village "witch" is around to straighten everyone out and solve the mysteries.
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LibraryThing member jfe16
Early in the summer, the river that runs through Beckford claimed the life of a teenager; now it’s claimed writer/photographer Nel Abbott, a single mother who was researching its Drowning Pool for a book. And these are not the first women to be lost here.

What long-submerged secrets does the
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river hold? And what do those secrets mean for Lena, the young girl now left to the care of Nel’s sister, Jules, a stranger who left town years ago, vowing never to return?

Despite the descriptive writing, especially in the depiction of the town, the large cast of unlikable characters hampers the telling of the tale and by the time the plodding plot reaches its final reveal, readers may no longer care about it.
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LibraryThing member WeeziesBooks
I really wanted to enjoy this book but it didn't come together for me. I found it hard to follow the characters with each chapter telling yet another story. There was far too much repetition and talk of the drowning pool without much suspense or mystery. Deaths, possibly murders or suicides, and a
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hint of witchcraft and/or family illness were scattered throughout the story.

I did finish the book with the hope that I would become vested or connected to the characters. I simply felt a sense of accomplishment and completion when it was done. I was not interest in reading more when the book was finished. As a reader, wanting a story line of the book to continue or having learning something new, or looking forward to reading another book by the same author are usually present when I have enjoyed or appreciated a book. None of these were a reaction to Hawkins' book.

Fear of the water, the river and drowning pool or just going "into the water" kept resurfacing but not with any sense of terror or suspense. I give this book 3 stars.
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LibraryThing member lmonch
Not as good as her first. Very interesting. Fast moving last part of the book and a very good ending.
LibraryThing member KarenHerndon
This was a big disappointment after Girl On The Train. I really enjoyed that book but this one was a little too predictable for me.
Ok as a quick read, but not gonna win any awards in my opinion.
LibraryThing member hubblegal
A woman is found dead in the water, water where many other women have drowned. In fact, this water is known as The Drowning Pool. Nel’s death has occurred just months after Katie, a friend of Nel’s daughter Lena, was found drowned. Now Nel’s sister Jules has returned home though she swore she
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would never return.

This is quite a complex story involving many characters. The book goes back to 1679 during the Witchfinder Trials, where women suspected of being witches are thrown with bound hands into the water with the idea if they floated, they could be declared witches. But if they drowned, oh well, guess they weren’t witches after all. Legend has it that The Drowning Pool is haunted by one of these girls.

The author jumps back and forth between the story of the girl drowned for being suspected of witchhood to the present story of Nel’s drowning, the recent story of Katie’s drowning and also a woman who had died a couple of decades ago. I thought the author did a very good job of creating an eerie, haunting atmosphere and I enjoyed that part of the book. However, I never really got too involved in the mysteries of these drownings and felt the red herrings went into too many directions and became confusing. There were an overabundance of statements such as “after what I did” or “how can I bear this guilt”, which of course left you hanging not knowing what they did. But I can’t say that I ever really cared what they did or didn’t do or who did what to whom. Though I did enjoy parts of this book. I think it just went in too many directions.

It’s quite a different book from “The Girl on the Train”. It had great potential of being a good psychological character study but I can’t help but feel that the author was trying too hard. The stress of writing a follow up to her immensely popular first book must have been quite intense. Here’s hoping that her next one will pull together better as there’s no doubt that she’s a talented author.
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LibraryThing member techeditor
INTO THE WATER is complex the way the best thrillers are. Various mysteries are going on, all interrelated, resulting in a smooth storyline.

* Why does Jules hate her sister Nel?
* Did Nel commit suicide or was she murdered?
* Are Nickie’s accounts of murder reliable or is she just a nut?
* Why did
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Katie, a 15-year-old girl who seemed to have everything going for her, commit a most unlikely suicide?
* Are Nel’s stories of all the women throughout history who have jumped or been thrown into the river fact or fiction?
* Why does Patrick maintain the cottage by the river? What went on at this site?
* What is Lena hiding that might give more insight to the reason Katie would commit suicide?
* Why does Helen have Nel’s bracelet? Does this mean she murdered Nel?
* And why has the river that runs through Beckford been the scene of the suicides or murders of so many women there? Why is it alluring?

These are only some of the mysteries going on in this book.

This complexity is good. But don’t expect INTO THE WATER to be like Paula Hawkins’ other novel, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. They’re not alike at all. That is not only in storyline. While I criticized THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, I also admitted that it is unputdownable at times. INTO THE WATER isn’t, ever.

Partly that is because most chapters of INTO THE WATER are first-person, some third-person, accounts, each by one of the characters in the story. While the book thus moves along, you may find, as I did, that this becomes an exercise in memorization. There are so many characters, each with his or her own viewpoint and mysteries, that I spent most of the book trying to keep them all straight and remember who did and said what. Many times I had to page back to previous chapters to remind myself.

INTO THE WATER is a good try. But, probably, readers who liked THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be disappointed in INTO THE WATER
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LibraryThing member Twink
Paula Hawkins' first novel, The Girl on the Train, was a runaway success. Her much anticipated second novel is Into the Water.

Jules is returning to her hometown, not because she ever wanted to see the place again, but because her sister has died and her fifteen year old daughter Lena is alone. Nel
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died in the Drowning Pool - a bend in the river that has claimed the life of more than one woman in Beckford. (The prologue opens with the death of one of those other women.) The question is - did Nel jump or was she pushed? Her death follows on the heels of a teenager who also recently died in the Drowning Pool.

"Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women."

Into the Water is told from many, many different voices - there are actually 14 different points of view, which I admit I did find a bit confusing in the beginning, until I sorted them all out in my head. There are lots of unreliable narrators to choose from! The narrative also switches from present to past for the key players. We slowly find out what has happened in the past that may, no - does, have an impact on the present.

There are many secrets in this village as well. The reader slowly becomes privy to them as they are revealed by the salient characters. The choices for those with a reason to kill Nel are many. But why the teenager? There is a character included who claims she is a psychic and more. Her inclusion had me wondering if there would be a mythical element to the current day deaths. There are other mentions of smells and glimpses of someone there, but not, that added to that ethereal feeling.

"Some say the women left something of themselves in the water, some say it retains some of their power, for ever since then it has drawn to its shores the unlucky, the desperate, the unhappy, the lost. they come here to swim with their sisters.

I found I was not as drawn to lead character Jules as much as I was to some of the supporting players. She is emotionally wounded from her childhood in Beckford, but despite her past, I found it hard to connect with her. (There are many wounded souls in this village.) I did find myself quite drawn to Lena and old Nicky, the psychic. The water is a key character in the book as well - water imagery flows throughout the book.

...they never saw what the water really was, greenish-black and filled with living things and dying things."

The path to the final whodunit is clever. With so many characters with reason and motivation to kill, it's impossible to determine who the final whodunit might be. And I'm happy to say I was wrong - Hawkins includes a nice little twist at the end that negated my guess.

For this reader, Into the Water didn't quite reach the same level of suspense as The Girl on the Train, but I still found it to be a page-turning read, as I could not predict where the story was going to go. It's slower paced, but no less addicting. Add this one to your summer reading list.
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LibraryThing member JanicsEblen
The format for the writing of this book is similar to The Girl on the Stain. When an author uses the same method of telling a similar story (in their 2nd book) I don't enjoy reading that author. It is unlikely that I will buy any more of her books. IF I really want to read something she writes, in
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the future, I will get it from the library rather than pout my hard earned money into purchasing the book.
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LibraryThing member ethel55
I didn't read The Girl on the Train, so I didn't have any particular expectations for this book. But it took so long to read and get into this story, I can't decide if it was just too long or had too much going on. The story is told via multiple viewpoints--ten or so, plus a handful of other pieces
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that are lifted from a book manuscript the most recent deceased, Nel Abbott, was writing That's a lot of viewpoints--some first person, some third, with the added insertion of multiple red herrings that get dropped and stories from the past that may or may not have any bearing. Julia Abbott had a lousy childhood and returning to Beckford after her sister's death, even with an unknown teen niece to look after seemed a superhuman feat.
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LibraryThing member sensitivemuse
First thing: I haven’t read The Girl on the Train so I picked up this book and just went in because I felt like a good mystery.

So was it any good?

Yes and no. There were several story arcs going on in this novel which was alright and easy to follow. I’d rather enjoyed reading most of them. I
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didn’t enjoy reading about Julia though. It’s not because I don’t sympathize with what she went through, it must have been horrible. I just didn’t really like her much as a character. There were moments where she was completely weak and useless. However, I’m glad of her outcome and of her development. Of all the characters; Lena and Julia developed the most.

In the beginning of the novel, I found it a little hard to follow at first. Each chapter is told in the point of view of another character and rotates all throughout the story. So you have to be aware of who’s who early in the story. There’s also flashbacks involved (those aren’t hard to follow though.)

I’d have to say, the character I enjoyed reading the most was Lena because of her fiery personality and her attitude (typical teenage angst but it was well done.) The rest of the characters were all right to read but don’t really produce enough of a presence to make such a huge impact on the book. Patrick, Mark, and Sean make your teeth grind though. The three of them being odious spineless bastages who need to get their due. of them gets their due. (Won’t spoil it any further.)

Plot wise, it’s a subtle slow moving mystery. The reader is kept guessing and although it may seem obvious as to who has done it, there’s more to just a whodunit. There’s a reasoning behind the deed that has taken place. There were few elements of some sort of supernatural characteristics in the plot but it’s nothing to be in awe about and it doesn’t really put any depth into the story or make the plot go further. It could be considered as just to fill in the blanks into the novel. Which I wasn’t too crazy about.

I ended up finishing it because it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t the best I’ve read either. Would I recommend it? Not really. Worth the read? It’s all right. Some people may like this type of story some might not. (It has a feeling of a TV movie to it, in my opinion.)
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LibraryThing member Carol420
Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
3.5 Stars

From The Book:
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and
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its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

My Views:
This one was so much better than [The Girl on The Train]. The characters here were real and their emotions grabbed you from the pages of the book. You could liked could grieved with them or rejoice with actually wanted to get to know them better. The only down side that I saw was that it wasn't an easy book to read because of the sheer number of those same likable characters that sometimes spoke in the present and sometimes in the past and some just added their opinions leaving the reader to try to figure out who was talking and did it pertain to the past or present.
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LibraryThing member KatherineGregg
Several narrators tell the story of Into the Water much like in Hawkin's first book, The Girl on a Train. The river in an English town is the setting for a series of murders and/or suicides that take place. I did not like this nearly as much as her first book. There were too many characters and I
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don't think it was as tightly written or as suspenseful as The Girl on a Train.
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LibraryThing member Susan.Macura
A lot of women are dying in a small town, drowning in the local river. There are a lot of questions as to why this is, but the answers are not easy ones. I found this book as compelling as "The Girl on the Train" and just as well written. I am looking forward to her next effort.
LibraryThing member ChrisWay
I had a hard time with this book, which is disappointing because I loved Girl on the Train. This book started slow to me and bounced around between characters in a way that made it hard for me to engage with the story. By the time the plot started picking up I was disinvested in the story and
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didn't really care about the outcome much.
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LibraryThing member bookofsecrets
I lost patience with INTO THE WATER early on. By page 32, I counted seven different POVs. Confusing! A few more POVs were added after that. Basically the story was about a place called "The Drowning Pool" where several women died, beginning in the 1600s. The latest death is a woman who was writing
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a book about this seemingly cursed place. Sounded promising, but turned out to be dull. Needed more suspense! I was looking forward to this book, but in the end it was just meh.
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LibraryThing member B.J.O.
3 "You Decide" Stars for the story and narration.

While Into the Water did captivate my attention sufficiently to finish the book, I must admit that it suffered from several flaws: too many characters, too many shifts in time that were difficult to follow, and a lack of a consistent message or
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theme. It almost felt like Ms. Hawkins wavered in her decision as to what message to convey. Perhaps the most consistent theme is that women often end up being the ones that are punished for men's lack of inhibitions when it comes to lust and adultery. However, I felt that there were many other themes introduced that would have been interesting to explore--at least as secondary plots--but were never fully developed (such as the witch trial references).

Though four different narrators were used, I also found distinguishing between all but one of them difficult. Moreover, the one I could identify, suffered from an overly breathy delivery or audible breathing.

Nonetheless I did enjoy sleuthing who the villain(s) were. Moreover, this is a book that I found that left me in contemplation mode constantly trying to discern the angle or moral of the author's purpose for telling this story. In the end, I decided that perhaps the lack of direction may have been intentional--in order to allow the reader or listener to come to their own conclusions. This book therefore is certainly a good one for a book club discussion as it provides many different perspectives and possibilities that provide good fodder for discussion.

Source: Review copy provided for review purposes.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
Suspenseful, riveting, and unique. The ending was a little anti-climactic, with a twist the reader could easily sniff out, but it was still a fun, morbid read. Told from multiple narrators, a manuscript, and some flashbacks, Into the Water, tells the story of Nell Abbot's fall? suicide? into the
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drowning pool where many other women before her have entered the water depths never to re-emerge. The narrator includes her estranged sister, her 15 year old daughter, the mother of a girl who also died in the drowning pool, some cops, a psychic and some other characters. Full of twists and turns this reads fast all the way up to the lackluster conclusion. Still a good read despite that though.
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LibraryThing member rmckeown
I am always a tiny bit nervous when I sit down to read a second novel when the first was terrific. I have been burned more than once in buying the “sophomore jinx” story. But this time, my fears were quickly washed away by Paula Hawkins and her new novel, Into the Water. Her first novel, The
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Girl on the Train, has been published in 40 countries with 20 million copies sold.

Into the Water seems to me a better novel than Girl. The only flaw was a confusing number of characters which took me quite a while to sort out with the help of several family trees. Once I had a clear picture of them—at about page 60 and yes, I did violate my rule of 50—the state of affairs became clear. She also provided a handy set of epilogues for the surviving main characters.

As the story begins, Nell Abbot, a single-mother has drowned in a river a short time after a teenager has done the same. Nell leaves behind her teenage daughter in the care of her sister, Julia “Jules” Abbott. A popular teen, Katie Whitaker preceded Nell in the river. The twists and turns had me guessing all the way to the end. A discerning reader needs to get a handle on the list of suspects as early as possible. Think three or four family trees.

Each chapter shares thoughts and ideas with the reader. In this instance, Jules, Nell’s Sister, thinks about her own death. Hawkins writes, “I pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. I looked up. There were the trees and the stone steps, green with moss and treacherous after the rain. My entire body goosefleshed. I remembered this: freezing rain beating the tarmac, flashing blue lights vying with lightening to illuminate the river and the sky, clouds of breath in front of panicked faces, and a little boy, ghost-white and shaking, led up the steps to the road by a policewoman. She was clutching his hand and her eyes were wide and wild, her head twisting this way and that as she called out to someone. I can still feel what it felt like that night, the terror and the fascination. I can still hear your words in my head: What would it be like? Can you imagine? To watch your mother die?”

Another interesting character is Nickie. Some see her as a nuisance, the children as a witch. Hawkins writes, “Nickie had a flat above the grocery shop, just one room really, with a galley kitchen and a bathroom so tiny it barely warranted the name. Not much to speak of, not much to show for a whole life, but she had a comfortable armchair by the window that looked out on the town, and that’s where she sat and ate even slept sometimes, because she hardly slept at all these days, so there didn’t seem much point in going to bed: 16).

One good thing about some English mysteries is the lack of guns and shooting. I quickly found myself trying to untie some of those knots with nothing but the same clues, rumors, and innuendo the police and the family. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins has about as much suspense as anyone could hope for. 5 stars.

--Chiron, 6/20/17
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LibraryThing member icolford
Following up on the stupendous success of The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins has fashioned another novel of twisted motives and psychological suspense that pulls the reader in from the first page. Following the suicide by drowning of her sister Danielle (Nel), Jules Abbott returns to Beckford,
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the town in northern England where the Abbott sisters spent much of their childhood and which Jules left the first chance she got, fleeing unpleasant memories. In Beckford, Jules, the younger and less attractive Abbott sister, is confronted by Nel’s teenage daughter Lena, beautiful but moody, who, in addition to her mother’s death, is also dealing with the very recent suicide of her best friend Katie Whittaker. Jules, estranged from her sister, reeling from guilt for not communicating with Nel in the months leading up to Nel’s death though she was given every opportunity, and influenced by Lena’s unshakable belief that her mother didn’t kill herself, starts wondering if her sister’s death was indeed a suicide (the Nel she knew was far too stubborn and self-assured to do such a thing), even though all the evidence indicates that it was and she has nothing but gut feeling with which to counter the supposed facts. Nel—beautiful, charming, intelligent, a brilliant journalist and photographer, but also a promiscuous boozer—was writing a book-length history of the town, focusing on the legendary Drowning Pool, a site formed by a bend in the river, where centuries earlier witches and other “troublesome women” were put to death and where more recently other women met violent ends. The Drowning Pool is where both Nel and Katie died, and Jules suspects that Nel's research uncovered something that got her killed. Hawkins populates her story with a sizable cast of deeply flawed and troubled characters—including members of the Whittaker family, other townspeople, and two police detectives, Sean Townsend and Erin Morgan—at final count entrusting her narrative to almost a dozen of them. The story zigs and zags in any number of directions as investigators sift through the (often contradictory) evidence, as dangerous and embarrassing secrets come to light, and as suspicion falls on almost everyone at one point or another. At the heart of the story is the mystery of why and how Nel Abbott and Katie Whittaker died. Hawkins handles the unravelling of that mystery in masterful fashion, patiently dropping clues and drawing her reader along to a chilling resolution. Though ultimately not as satisfying as The Girl on the Train—in part because of a sense of fragmentation caused by the story being told from so many perspectives, and possibly by the author’s reliance on repressed memory to elucidate portions of what happened—Into the Water is still an unsettling, atmospheric and frequently spellbinding novel, one that turns a jaded eye on the strategies people use to shield themselves from the consequences of their poor choices and bad behaviour.
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LibraryThing member bookwalter
It is difficult to write a sensational international best-seller in today's crowded book market. But judging by this novel, it is even harder to write a successful sequel. I couldn't wait to finish this one, which pales in comparison with Girl on the Train. Too long, over-wrought characters,
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fumbling sense of organization. Don't know that I'll want to try her third. One-book wonder?
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LibraryThing member Gingermama
Another excellent thriller from Hawkins. Good pacing, interesting characters, and a central mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.
LibraryThing member MinDea
At first I found this book a little overwhelming with all the characters and trying to keep track of everyone and I wasn't sure if I was liking it. About midway through I think it really started to take off and it became less about keeping the povs in order and more about the actual story. I found
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it very reminiscent of Girl on the Train. I liked this story but thought it was too predictable. I did like how it all unfolded.
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