In The Night Swim, a new thriller from Megan Goldin, author of the “gripping and unforgettable” (Harlen Coben) The Escape Room, a true crime podcast host covering a controversial trial finds herself drawn deep into a small town’s dark past and a brutal crime that took place there years before.
Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation—but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases—and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin is a first class read. Rachel Krall runs a true crime podcast, now in its third season. As an impartial observer, she takes viewers into the courtroom in real-time. Set in North Carolina’s coastal town of Neapolis, she follows the case of Scott Blair — an outstanding swimming star set for the Olympic team who allegedly raped a sixteen-year-old-girl. The victim has been prevented by the court to talk about the case and the bullying she suffers on social media will set your teeth on edge.
The narrative, which balances the past and present, is interwoven with letters from a woman recounting the events leading up to the death of her sister, Jenny, twenty-five years earlier. Letters left in prominent and personal places for only Rachel to find. Not only are they designed to provoke Rachel’s journalistic nature, but they bring to light moral issues disturbingly absent in such a heinous case. The more Rachel investigates, the more startling the parallels become. Especially because Jenny’s incident — said to be a tragic drowning — is slowly beginning to look more like murder. Some townsfolk insist Jenny was a down and out liar, although Hannah’s letters challenge that theory, making the reader root all the more for Jenny and for Rachel to dig deeper. As small town politics take control, you can’t help questioning who or what to believe.
The reliving of testimony on the witness stand is the part I found the most traumatic. As the defence continues to paint the victim known only as ‘K’ to be a liar and delves too deeply into every tiny detail, you know her life will never be the same. Whether or not the jury will be persuaded to believe her word against his remains to be seen. But you also know she is lamenting the day she ever met Scott. I know I would.
Having read The Escape Room, I knew Night Swim would be a smooth, twisty ride. Goldin writes poignantly and skilfully on the victimization of women in a rape trial. Warning to other abuse/rape survivors, the explicit content will leave you pretty raw. Goldin doesn’t sugar-coat any of the details of both these cases and for many this will not be a comfortable read. Sexual abuse and assaults that were once considered harmless are brought to the fore. None detract from the pacey and clever plot, and all controversial issues are delivered sensitively.
It’s an outstanding read, masterfully plotted with a unique premise. Will Rachel’s podcasts become a series? Who knows? I would definitely enjoy reading another of her cases.
Many thanks to author Megan Goldin, St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan and Netgalley for the privilege of reading this advance copy.
What everyone is saying:
- Print Length: 348 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250272777
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (August 4, 2020)
- Publication Date: August 4, 2020
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0818N4HC8
About the Author:
Megan Goldin is the author of The Escape Room, a 2019 thriller that Lee Child called “one of my favorite books of the year” and Harlan Coben called “thrilling and unforgettable”. Megan’s new novel The Night Swim will be released in August 2020. Before becoming a novelist, Megan worked as a reporter covering the Middle East and Asia for the Reuters news agency, the Associate Press and the ABC as well as other news outlets.
Other books by Megan Goldin