Stagnant and stuck in mud
been obsessively photographing. Nel was researching the history of local women who died in the Drowning Pool – some were suicides, others met their oblivion unwillingly. The first known drowning was that of Libby Seeton, a young girl who was accused of witchcraft. She was fatally dunked in the river in the autumn of 1679. Other victims include poor Anne Ward, whose husband returned from World War I a violent man; and, recently, Katie Whittaker, a close unhappy women; they drank it every day.”
Into this murk wades Jules. She’d been estranged from Nel for years, but now she assumes guardianship of her angry and devastated niece, Lena, and begins investigating her older sister’s mysterious drowning. Suspects begin to hatch like mayflies here. There’s the handsome high-school teacher, the nasty retired policeman along with his peculiarly doting daughter-in-law, and Katie Whittaker’s grief-racked mother, who irrationally blames Nel for her daughter’s death. These characters, along with almost everyone else Jules meets in this damp burgh, tell their own versions of the truth, tainted by mould and malice. Jules dredges up dirt until, inevitably, there’s a climactic scene at the water’s edge, where another victim seems destined to vanish into the drink.
In The Girl on the Train, Hawkins ingeniously created a situation where an emotionally stuck heroine is jolted back to life in the course of her daily rides past a landscape that alters radically. In Into the Water, however, Hawkins’s stock townspeople circle round and round the Drowning Pool, whose sinister nature has remained static for centuries. The revelations about her sister’s life and death produce but a ripple in Jules’s day-to-day life.
Into the Water is a dull disappointment of a thriller. One good flush would put everybody – characters and readers alike – out of their misery. – The Washington Post