Beneath the surface of every person are secrets and broiling emotions. The river that runs through Beckford has always been a gathering place and swimming hole, but beneath its surface hides some of this town’s darkest secrets. In a bend of the river where the waters are the calmest, known as the Drowning Pool, Nel Abbott’s body is discovered. Her death is only the latest in a long history of women dying there, including the recent death of a 15-year-old girl who happens to be the best friend of Nel’s daughter, Lena.
Lena is only fifteen years old but has secrets of her own. She has no interest in getting to know the aunt that spurned her mother’s attempts to reach out. She also knows more than she’s telling about her best friend’s death. With her mother now gone, she bears this secret alone. How long can she keep their secrets? And does she even want to if they may have led to her mother’s death?
Jules Abbott hasn’t spoken to her sister in years when she gets the call about her death. She’s never met her niece and never wanted to go back to Beckford, the place of their summer vacations where Nel now lives. Forced to return, she is confronted with one of the things she fears the most, the river. Not only because that’s where Nel died, but because the book Nel was working on is inspired by the Drowning Pool and all the secrets hidden within. Her sister’s made a lot of enemies in this town, digging up their family’s dark past as she investigates each story of women lost at the pool. Nel’s death once again brings to light the history of death in the river. Meanwhile, Lena and Jules must learn to deal with their sorrow and secrets while also navigating the emotional upheaval of the families left behind by those the river has claimed.
Paula Hawkins once again shows her mastery of telling a twisting tale of mystery and intrigue that explores the emotional depth of human instincts. Through the personal view points of multiple characters, Lena, Jules, two police detectives, the mother of the fifteen-year-old girl who recently died, and many more, including Nel herself, Ms. Hawkins delivers a thrilling read that explores deceptiveness of memory when in deep emotional turmoil and how the past can have far reaching consequences to the future.
Susana Goldman is the Associate Director of Operations for the Alamance County Public Library. She can be reached at email@example.com.