Into the Water

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Riverhead Books, 2017 - Fiction - 388 pages
53 Reviews
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER

An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train.

"Hawkins is at the forefront of a group of female authors--think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott--who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease... there's a certain solace to a dark escape, in the promise of submerged truths coming to light." --Vogue

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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - phyllis.shepherd - LibraryThing

I found this to be confusing and a slow read. The plot had great potential, but the many viewpoints and narrators made it unnecessarily disjointed. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stevealtier - LibraryThing

I love her style of writing. The way she weaves all the characters together, allowing you to know what each person is thinking and feeling. I enjoyed this book, even though I figured out the ending of ... Read full review

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About the author (2017)

Why is it that I can recall so perfectly the things that happened to me when I was eight years old, and yet trying to remember whether or not I spoke to my colleagues about rescheduling a client assessment for next week is impossible? The things I want to remember I can''t, and the things I try so hard to forget just keep coming. The nearer I got to Beckford, the more undeniable it became, the past shooting out at me like sparrows from the hedgerow, startling and inescapable.

All that lushness, that unbelievable green, the bright acid yellow of the gorse on the hill, it burned into my brain and brought with it a newsreel of memories: Dad carrying me, squealing and squirming with delight, into the water when I was four or five years old; you jumping from the rocks into the river, climbing higher and higher each time. Picnics on the sandy bank by the pool, the taste of sunscreen on my tongue; catching fat brown fish in the sluggish, muddy water downstream from the Mill. You coming home with blood streaming down your leg after you misjudged one of those jumps, biting down on a tea towel while Dad cleaned the cut because you weren''t going to cry. Not in front of me. Mum, wearing a light-blue sundress, barefoot in the kitchen making porridge for breakfast, the soles of her feet a dark rusty brown. Dad sitting on the riverbank, sketching. Later, when we were older, you in denim shorts with a bikini top under your T‑shirt, sneaking out late to meet a boy. Not just any boy, the boy. Mum, thinner and frailer, sleeping in the armchair in the living room; Dad disappearing on long walks with the vicar''s plump, pale, sun-hatted wife. I remember a game of football. Hot sun on the water, all eyes on me; blinking back tears, blood on my thigh, laughter ringing in my ears. I can still hear it. And underneath it all, the sound of rushing water.

I was so deep into that water that I didn''t realize I''d arrived. I was there, in the heart of the town; it came on me suddenly as though I''d closed my eyes and been spirited to the place, and before I knew it I was driving slowly through narrow lanes lined with SUVs, a blur of rose stone at the edge of my vision, towards the church, towards the old bridge, careful now. I kept my eyes on the tarmac in front of me and tried not to look at the trees, at the river. Tried not to see, but couldn''t help it.

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 goose-fleshed. I remembered this: freezing rain beating the tarmac, flashing blue lights vying with lightning 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 I felt 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?

I looked away. I started the car and pulled back onto the road, drove over the bridge where the lane twists around. I watched for the turning-- the first on the left? No, not that one, the second one. There it was, that old brown hulk of stone, the Mill House. A prickle over my skin, cold and damp, my heart beating dangerously fast, I steered the car through the open gate and into the driveway.

There was a man standing there, looking at his phone. A policeman in uniform. He stepped smartly towards the car and I wound down the window.

"I''m Jules," I said. "Jules Abbott? I''m . . . her sister."

"Oh." He looked embarrassed. "Yes. Right. Of course. Look"-- he glanced back at the house--"
there''s no one here at the moment. The girl. . . your niece . . . she''s out. I''m not exactly sure where. . ." He pulled the radio from his belt.

I opened the door and stepped out. "All right if I go into the house?" I asked. I was looking up at the open window, what used to be your old room. I could see you there still, sitting on the windowsill, feet dangling out. Dizzying.

The policeman looked uncertain. He turned away from me and said something quietly into his radio before turning back. "Yes, it''s all right. You can go in."

I was blind walking up the steps, but I heard the water and I smelled the earth, the earth in the shadow of the house, underneath the trees, in the places untouched by sunlight, the acrid stink of rotting leaves, and the smell transported me back in time.

I pushed the front door open, half expecting to hear my mother''s voice calling out from the kitchen. Without thinking, I knew that I''d have to shift the door with my hip, at the point where it sticks against the floor. I stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind me, my eyes struggling to focus in the gloom; I shivered at the sudden cold.

In the kitchen, an oak table was pushed up under the window. The same one? It looked similar, but it couldn''t be; the place had changed hands too many times between then and now. I could find out for sure if I crawled underneath to search for the marks you and I left there, but just the thought of that made my pulse quicken.

I remember the way it got the sun in the morning, and how if you sat on the left-hand side, facing the Aga, you got a view of the old bridge, perfectly framed. So beautiful, everyone remarked upon the view, but they didn''t really see. They never opened the window and leaned out, they never looked down at the wheel, rotting where it stood, they never looked past the sunlight playing on the water''s surface, they never saw what the water really was, greenish-black and filled with living things and dying things.

Out of the kitchen, into the hall, past the stairs, deeper into the house. I came across it so suddenly it threw me, the enormous windows giving out onto the river-- into the river, almost, as though if you opened them, water would pour in over the wide wooden window seat running along beneath.

I remember. All those summers, Mum and I sitting on that window seat, propped up on pillows, feet up, toes almost touching, books on our knees. A plate of snacks somewhere, although she never touched them.

I couldn''t look at it; it made me heartsick and desperate, seeing it again like that.

The plasterwork had been stripped back, exposing bare brick beneath, and the decor was all you: oriental carpets on the floor, heavy ebony furniture, big sofas and leather armchairs, and too many candles. And everywhere, the evidence of your obsessions: huge framed prints, Millais''s Ophelia, beautiful and serene, eyes and mouth open, flowers clutched in her hand. Blake''s Triple Hecate, Goya''s Witches'' Sabbath, his Drowning Dog. I hate that one most of all, the poor beast fighting to keep his head above a rising tide.

I could hear a phone ringing, and it seemed to come from beneath the house. I followed the sound through the living room and down some steps-- I think there used to be a storeroom there, filled with junk. It flooded one year and everything was left coated in silt, as though the house were becoming part of the riverbed.

I stepped into what had become your studio. It was filled with camera equipment, screens, standard lamps and light boxes, a printer, papers and books and files piled up on the floor, filing cabinets ranged against the wall. And pictures, of course. Your photographs, covering every inch of the plaster. To the untrained eye, it might seem you were a fan of bridges: the Golden Gate, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, the Prince Edward Viaduct. But look again. It''s not about the bridges, it''s not some love of these masterworks of engineering. Look again and you see it''s not just bridges, it''s Beachy Head, Aokigahara Forest, Preikestolen. The places where hopeless people go to end it all, cathedrals of despair.

Opposite the entrance, images of the Drowning Pool. Over and over and over, from every conceivable angle, every vantage point: pale and icy in winter, the cliff black and stark, or sparkling in the summer, an oasis, lush and green, or dull flinty grey with storm clouds overhead, over and over and over. The images blurred into one, a dizzying assault on the eye. I felt as though I were there, in that place, as though I were standing at the top of the cliff, looking down into the water, feeling that terrible thrill, the temptation of oblivion.

You loved the Mill House and the water and you were obsessed with those women, what they did and who they left behind. And now this. Honestly, Nel. Did you really take it that far?



Upstairs, I hesitated outside the master bedroom. My fingers on the door handle, I took a deep breath. I knew what they had told me but I also knew you, and I couldn''t believe them. I felt sure that when I opened the door, there you would be, tall and thin and not at all pleased to see me.

The room was empty. It had the feeling of a place just vacated, as though you''d just slipped out and run downstairs to make a cup of coffee. As though you''d be back any minute. I could still smell your perfume in the air, something rich and sweet and old-fashioned, like one of the ones Mum used to wear, Opium or Yvresse.

"Nel?" I said your name softly, as if to conjure you up, like a devil. Si

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