Book review, first take: Paula Hawkins' Into The Water

The new book from British author Paula Hawkins, who wrote the bestselling thriller The Girl On The Train. PHOTO: PAULA HAWKINS BOOKS
The new book from British author Paula Hawkins, who wrote the bestselling thriller The Girl On The Train. PHOTO: PAULA HAWKINS BOOKS

In this new series, The Straits Times' book reviewers give their first take on titles hot off the shelf.

FICTION

INTO THE WATER

By Paula Hawkins

Doubleday/Paperback/357 pages/$26.54/Major bookstores

With Into The Water, British author Paula Hawkins has the unenviable task of living up to her searing bestseller The Girl On The Train.

Her new novel, which centres on a pool in small-town Beckford where "troublesome" women keep drowning in, is a readable enough thriller on its own terms, but lacks theaddictive quality of its predecessor.

 

Hawkins ambitiously juggles 11 different perspectives around the mysterious drowning of Nel Abbott, a woman obsessed with the pool's history. These range from her estranged sister Jules, who ignored Nel's last call before her plunge, to the police officers investigating the death and the town's other inhabitants. Some of these are individual successes - Nel's bright, bitter teenage daughter Lena stands out - but the overall effect is unwieldy.

The book, however, has some genuinely chilling moments, as Hawkins fleshes out the horrors of 17th-century witch hunts, or the insidious cruelties experienced by young women growing into their bodies.