Hawkins’ latest dives into deadly mystery


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How do you find out what truly happened when the only person who can tell the whole story is dead?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2017 (1961 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

How do you find out what truly happened when the only person who can tell the whole story is dead?

British author Paula Hawkins, who penned 2015’s smash hit The Girl on the Train, fills in the blanks in a chilling, explosive thriller, Into the Water.

Nel Abbott is obsessed with the river — she swims in Beckford’s waterway rain or shine, and feels most alive and connected to the world when she’s in the water. Her favourite spot is Beckford’s infamous Drowning Pool, an idyllic swimming hole with a disturbing past.

Into the Water By Paula Hawkins Doubleday Canada, 400 pages, $35

Trial by water was a common practice in the 15th and 16th centuries, used to determine the guilt or innocence of “troublesome women” — more commonly referred to as witches. The test was life or death, and the proof of innocence was survival.

Beckford’s notorious Drowning Pool has taken care of many troublesome women throughout its existence. Drawn to the stories of the women who lost their lives to the pool, Nel sets about writing her version of the Drowning Pool’s history, only to uncover deadly secrets. As she delves deeper into the pool’s troubling stories, she makes startling discoveries and puts her life at risk. But nobody expected her to be the pool’s next victim.

Nel’s sister Jules is left to pick up the pieces. Forced to return to a town and a past she’s been running from her entire adult life, Jules becomes the sole caretaker of Nel’s daughter, Lena. Angry, rebellious, confused and hurt, Lena is mourning both her mother and best friend, Katie, who was also lost to the Drowning Pool. Jules is almost frightened by Lena, a carbon copy of her mother, but she is also determined to uncover the mysteries surrounding Nel’s and Katie’s deaths — and figure out what Lena is hiding. Haunted by childhood memories of Nel and plagued by ghosts from the pool, Jules begins to piece together Beckford’s most guarded and terrifying secrets.

Hawkins is in her element here, once again playing with memory, perception, truth and reality. As more of Jules’ childhood with Nel comes to light, motivations are questioned and misunderstandings remedied. Jules, unable to reconcile with her sister in life, resolves to honour her sister in death. And as more details about Katie’s life are unveiled, Lena seeks solace in her aunt and vengeance for the injustice of both her mother’s and best friend’s deaths.

Fast-paced and impossible to put down, Into the Water draws you in and keeps you ensnared. Hawkins has crafted a masterful mystery, with too many twists and turns to count.

In a town where too many have lost their lives to the Drowning Pool, families come together and are split apart by what Nel — and, later, Jules — uncovers. With creepy and supernatural elements weaved into yet another addictive and hair-raising thriller, Hawkins has outdone herself with Into the Water.

Katrina Sklepowich is a lover of all things literary and creator of the Literally, Katrina podcast and blog at LiterallyKatrina.com.

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