The best thing one can say about INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins is that the narrators of the audiobook edition are first rate, and succeed in separating the many voices (ie. characters) in a way that the print edition of the book cannot. The story starts in the past, with a suspected witch being killed, and moves to the present for the duration, with small town mysteries being amplified by buried secrets foreshadowed throughout. The tone and multiple narrators reminded me of a better novel by Adele Griffin titled THE UNFINISHED LIFE OF ADDISON STONE. Hawkins is, of course, author of the wildly successful THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, made into a movie. This, her second novel, will no doubt be a bestseller because of that, and probably a movie too. But not only is this novel inferior to her first, it is merely average for the genre. (Not outstanding.) The prose is not polished, either. Hawkins likes to write “his eyes slid off my face” rather than “his gaze.” Instead of original and memorable descriptions, such as Alafair Burke would use, we get boots “caked” in mud. And overuse of the F word. There is resonance in making the narrators sound real in dialogue, using cliches, but in exposition one should be more subtle. The final chapters seem like postscripts without the big reveal or twist many might think would be coming. More of a whimper than a bang. An interesting, offbeat, cosy English mystery. Not a blockbuster. Kudos to narrators Rachel Bavidge, Sophie Aldred, Daniel Weyman, Laura Aikman, and Imogen Church. They’ve got the accents down pat, and with proper emotional resonance.
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