- Megan Bingham
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
The rural British town of Beckford is surrounded by water. No one can turn anywhere in town and not face the twisting river that snakes through its center. The river is dotted with high cliffs that lead down to what's called a drowning pool. Many unfortunate women have lost their lives there, either falling from the enormous, rocky cliffs, jumping on their own, or worse. The pool is even reported to have housed multiple witch drownings in the 17th century.
The plague of watery deaths picks up in August of 2015, when Nel Abbott, an eccentric local author and reporter, ends up in the drowning pool. Weeks earlier, 15-year-old Katie, who was friends with the dead woman's teenage daughter, died the same way. Through the eyes of an array of intense Beckford residents, we see the tragic story unfold. There's Jules, Nel's estranged sister who has come back to Beckford to impose on her orphaned (and troubled) niece; Louise Whittaker, mother of the dead Katie and Detective Sean Townsend, a mysterious and solitary man investigating the deaths with his young partner, Erin Morgan. There's even a psychic, Nickie Sage, who knows a lot more than the cops do about many of the deaths in the river, whether it's due to her paranormal powers or not.
Paula Hawkins, author of the bestselling book Girl on the Train, has written yet another deceiving and dark mystery. Into the Water takes its reader into the deadly depths of the Beckford River and its drowning pool deaths, beginning with the characters Hawkins creates. The tragic characters are first thrown at the reader in a rather confusing state; we don't know much of what has happened in the past, other than the folklore of a lonely British town. The manner of many of the deaths is disturbing and unnatural, and most of the Beckford residents believe they may have happened for a reason. A reason nobody seems to be able to uncover. If they try, they end up dead like Nel.
Into the Water is a great piece of fiction but can be rather confusing at times, much like Hawkins' previous title Girl on the Train. The confusion, however, does lead up to an exciting exploding point of action that will blow the reader away. If you like Hawkins' Hitchcock-like building of suspense, then you must read Into the Water. However, if you expect immediate answers to the ancient and hidden secrets of a town like Beckford, then this isn't the title for you.