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The Girl On The Train goes Into The Water

If it seems like this is a sequel to Paula Hawkins blockbuster novel, The Girl On The Train, I apologize for the misrepresentation. Into The Water is a standalone tale, that is suspenseful and takes the reader into another gripping adventure. 

Water is the prevailing theme of Paula Hawkins new novel Into The Water. A single mother is found dead. Did she commit suicide? Was it an accident? If the latter hypothesis holds true, then it’s a question of whodunit.  

There are people who are drawn to water, who retain some vestigial primal sense of where it flows.

Nel Abbott is the mother in question. She’s always had a fascination with water. She is also an aspiring writer, who's focusing on a book about the people who died in the local Beckford Drowning Pool. Is it ironic that she becomes one of the drowned herself? 

"The name carries weight; and yet, what is it? A bend in the river, that's all. A meander. You'll find it if you follow the river in all its twists and turns, swelling and flooding, giving life and taking it, too. The river is by turns cold and clean, stagnant and polluted; it snakes through forest and cuts like steel through the soft Cheviot Hills, and then, just north of Beckford, it slows. It rests, just for a while, at the Drowning Pool." 

At this idyllic spot, where picnickers pause, and hikers take in the beauty at the edge of the cliff, danger lurks. The water, dark and glassy, hides what lies beneath. For centuries, this exact spot has claimed several lives.

When she was seventeen, Nel Abbott saved her sister from drowning. Or rather, that's her version of the incident she wrote in detail about in her unpublished book, The Drowning Pool. Her sister's story is a lot different. As a child, Nel heard lots of stories of those drowned in The Beckford Pool, and those stories fascinated her. 

She leaves behind a daughter, Lena, fifteen years old. Lena's best friend also drowned in the pool, not too long ago. Are you getting a gist of the complexity of the plot and characters?

Into The Water tells the story from various perspectives and viewpoints -- with Paula Hawkins' familiar writing style. There is a daughter, an aunt, an ex-copper, a reporter, and various towns folk. As we learn more and more about them, their individual lives intertwine. While the perspectives told from the various characters makes sense in theory, in this case, it is a deterrent. Because of the seemingly exhaustive characters in the book, the read becomes exhausting on occasion. For some readers it may be hard to keep all the difference balls in the air, and understand and engage with the moving story that meanders with ebbs and flows. The editing also needed tightening as the story repeated itself from time to time as the reader will find when confronted with a new perspective courtesy of a different narrator. 

Girl On The Train was an interesting read, as was the movie. But those that compare it to thrillers like Gone Girl, are overreaching. This book too lacks the cutting edge of a suspenseful thriller. It's interesting, with some heart stopping moments, but overall it is arguably predictable.