Book Review: Into the Water

After the monster hit that was The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins returns to the scene of crime with a new whodunit Into the Water. But what a stunning disappointment. An overplotted story about the deaths of "troublesome" women, it is padded with too many subplots and too many point of view narratives (some from people who are tenuously linked to the core mystery) that go nowhere. The Hawkins who successfully manufactured tension through her unreliable characters in The Girl on the Train makes Into the Water almost a chore to read through, the intentional obfuscation not achieving the desired payoff other than to keep the story plodding along. After much pointless talking and arguing back and forth (which could have been resolved by a simple open conversation), the novel, set against the backdrop of Beckford in the month of August 2015, unexpectedly gathers steam in its climax, ending on a note that's at once riveting and surprising. While definitely a different kind of book, Into the Water is at best a passable portrait of a town with a dark past that comes undone, thanks to its needlessly confounding narrative structure and a mystery that isn't so much a mystery as it is about an illogical string of contrivances.