Paula Hawkins’ debut novel The Girl on the Train is THE book that everyone is talking about these days. And with good reason.
The novel is a compulsively readable psychological thriller that gives us shifting narrative view points from three different — and completely unreliable — narrators. Rachel, Anna and Megan each have pieces of the puzzle as to what happened when, well, that might be giving away too much. Each of these women’s lives has multiple points of intersection and watching as Hawkins slowly puts the pieces into place is one of the pleasures of this novel.
So too is the willingness Hawkins has to make her characters completely unlikeable at times, but to give us clues as to why and how they’re behaving the way are. Whether it’s Rachel’s struggles with alcohol and her obsession with her ex-husband and his new family or Anna and her overprotective nature toward her new life and new baby, Hawkins parcels out just enough information to keep the reader making assumptions about these women. Sometimes she leads us down the wrong path and other times, she only confirms what we already suspected.
It’s that aspect that makes The Girl on the Train such a compelling and much buzzed about read. Another fact in the novel’s favor is that it feels very much like a stand-alone novel. In the day and age where it seems like everything to hit shelves has to be part of a series, it’s nice to pick up a novel that can stand-alone as well as this one does.
I love a good mystery but I’ll admit it the murder mystery can wear a bit thin at times. Thankfully, I stumbled across Ridley Pearson’s The Pied Piper, which is a solidly crafted mystery that doesn’t necessarily rely upon murder as the inciting action.
Instead, the plot follows a team of Seattle detectives who are trying to stop ta serial kidnapper. With short chapters, Pearson not only lets us into the lives of his detective team but also into the lives of the victims’ families. It makes for a bit of a slow burn early in the novel but it pays dividends once you reach the mid-point of the novel and frustrations begin to boil over.
If there’s a drawback to this novel, it would be that it’s the fifth book of a series and I haven’t read the four leading up to it. This means that certain storylines don’t quite hold as much weight with me early in the story as they might had I read a few of the initial installments. But this one was strong enough that I will seek out other installments of the series and give them a try.