The Night Swim is one of a new amateur detective genre inspired by the success of Serial, the podcast that captivated America. True crime podcasts have become a thing as people vie to be the next big thing. Seriously, Marie Claire has a list of Fifty Best True Crime Podcasts. Rachel Krall is a successful podcaster who covers murder trials, putting her listeners in the jury room, so to speak. However, this time she is featuring a rape trial in a small coastal town of Neapolis in part because she is troubled by the difference with which rape and murder are treated.
The book is presented from two points of view. Rachel and Hannah. Hannah is sending notes to Rachel begging her to look into her sister’s death twenty-five years earlier. She insists her sister was murdered though at first, Rachel is told she drowned accidentally. Her producer/partner wants her to focus on the rape trial. A high school student was raped while walking home from a party and left on the beach. The accused, Scott Blair, is the son of a wealthy businessman. Blair is headed toward the Olympics as a swimmer. The town is divided, though far too many are far too concerned about Scott Blair’s future than the young girl’s suffering.
However, Hannah persists, though in a stalkerish way that creeps Rachel out. Nonetheless, when she digs a little, she finds that perhaps Hannah is telling the truth.
The Night Swim was hard to put down. It is a story rich in the kind of slow accretion of details that gradually unfold to tell a story rich in detail and irony. It is fair, so the reader will be able to make conclusions just in time to feel satisfied, but not too soon. Megan Goldin has a strong point of view that she expressed effectively through Rachel Krall. Why is it that we put rape victims on trial, but not the victims of other crimes? Good questions.
There is a “ripped from the headlines” feeling about The Night Swim because there are so many news stories that it seems to draw inspiration from: The Steubenville Rape is represented in the community’s rallying around the accused rapist and the Brock Turner case where even the judge seemed more concerned about the swimmer’s future. This makes for a timely book, but one that is a painful reminder to women exactly where they stand in our culture.
The Night Swim will be released on August 4th. I received an ARC from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.