Something in the Water opens with a woman digging a grave and making darn sure she does it right. Erin, who narrates this thriller is one of those people who collects facts, loves to google for information, and is one smart cookie. I love her even though I wonder why she is burying her husband.

We go back to the beginning when Erin meets Mark, her husband, an investment banking wunderkind who is handsome, funny, smart, and all kinds of perfect. They fall in love, they marry, they honeymoon, and on the honeymoon, they discover a plot device that has powered many a thriller, found money! Of course, found money always belongs to somebody bad, otherwise it would suck as a plot device. It does, but there’s more to this plot than one device and the suspense is real. After all, some bad guys looking for their money does not exactly explain why the person she’s burying is her husband.

It’s a challenge when books start at the end. Can the author weave enough suspense into the story? Will knowing the end make the foreshadowing too obvious? Will we care about the character? Luckily for us, Catherine Steadman met every challenge. If this were bowling, she would have given us nine strikes and a spare.

Of course, you want to know what the spare is. Mark earned his burial and Erin gave us her explanation of how that came to be and it rings true in the context of male fragility and toxic masculinity, but I wonder if her own temptation when she, for a moment, has sole control of the money, is not a better explanation? Mark is a less compelling character than Erin, actually less compelling that the people she interviews for her job as a documentarian. He’s a bit too perfect, but then who isn’t in the honeymoon stage.

I loved this book. I loved Erin. She’s feisty, smart, and resourceful. She’s a bit starry-eyed in love, but that does not make her a fool. I love the wit, the zest with which Steadman writes. I even love the chapter titles. Not puns, not allusions, not clever, but just exactly perfect for the chapter. I can look back at the titles and know exactly what happened and see the arc of the story.

People are always looking for the next Gillian Flynn and the next Ruth Ware, but I am looking for the next Catherine Steadman, preferably by Catherine Steadman who I have learned since reading this book is a successful, talented actress which is absolutely too much talent per square inch for planetary stability.

I received an e-galley of Something in the Water from the publisher through NetGalley.

Something in the Water at Ballantine | Penguin Random House

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