Rachel runs a successful true crime podcast and is in the process of recording her next season, which follows a live case as it is tried. While she’s doing this, she’s approached via letter from a woman claiming that her sister was murdered 25 years earlier in this same town. Hannah begs Rachel to help her, and Rachel can’t help but to be intrigued, especially as the two crimes may not be as unrelated as they appear at first glance.
Gotta admit, this one had a lot of flaws. I’m never a huge fan of books told in letters or journal entries or other untraditional prose, and there were letters, emails, and podcast transcripts here. Despite that, I didn’t mind the format too much, though honestly I could have done without the entire Hannah subplot – Rachel’s current case was already a full novel’s worth of information and intrigue. It’s also very politically charged, the coverage of a rape trial with two high-priced lawyers and a he said/she said back-and-forth narrative, Rachel trying to remain unbiased (but clearly leaning more toward the accuser in this case). All that would have been enough without Hannah’s subplot, which honestly not only felt superfluous, but a bit weird. This investigative journalist with good instincts just starts to follow directions left by an anonymous stalker in letters attached to her car or left in her hotel room? I mean, come on!
Then, there were just a lot of plot holes. Somehow Rachel finds evidence in the current case that the police missed – evidence, btw, that there’s absolutely NO WAY the police would actually have missed. I mean, it was self-evident long before Rachel even realized she had a lead! Not to mention minor discrepancies like the flip-flopping on whether or not the judge had ever had one of his decisions reversed (this changed like three times). Those smaller things didn’t really affect the story, but it certainly made the book feel less polished/edited. And the big ones were just a let down.
The Night Swim was easy enough to read quickly, and interesting enough to keep me engaged, but in the end, it wasn’t the best of stories for me.