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Sunday, July 16, 2017


A challenging novel but an interesting and exciting one which certainly prompts a re-read. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Paula Hawkins’, author of The Girl on the Train, the runaway Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller, has created a new psychological thriller with Into the Water.

The thriller is set in a rural area called Beckford near Newcastle in the UK. There is a river running through the town and at one point it becomes dark and ominous. Known as the Drowning Pool, this has been the site of a number of drownings. Or were the women in question pushed … or perhaps their bodies thrown in?

The leading character is Jules Abbott who makes a return to her home following the devastating news that her sister, Nel, is dead – having jumped into the Drowning Pool. Or such is the local belief.

Jules refuses to believe this and sets about trying to uncover the mystery. It doesn’t help that she and her sister had been estranged for years as well as the fact that Nel made 11 calls to Jules over the last three months to which Jules didn’t respond. So guilt is playing a major role in her investigation process.

Nel called the Drowning Pool a place to get rid of “troublesome women”. She was writing a book about the Beckford drownings as well as installing cameras above the site which made her a number of enemies.

Jules now finds herself responsible for Lena – Nel’s teenage daughter – and, apart from being a complex character, Lena is steadfastly holding onto a secret which could provide answers to many queries.

There are numerous characters – all interwoven, many of them haunted by dreams or memories. The chapters are short, moving from one character to another and the book goes forwards and backwards in time.

This is a challenging novel but an interesting and exciting one. It certainly prompts a re-read to appreciate the writer’s handling of this complicated set of relationships, her understanding of characters and how the investigation unfurls.

Hawkins was born and raised in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), leaving after school to settle in the UK. The Girl on the Train was adapted into a film in 2016.

Into the Water is published in paperback by Penguin Random House South Africa ISBN 9780857524430. Recommended Price R295. – Caroline Smart