Book Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin (ALC)

The Night Swim

Author: Megan Goldin

Narrators: Bailey Carr, January LaVoy, & Samantha Desz

Publication Date: 04 August 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Mystery/Thriller

Length: 9 hours 58 minutes

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of 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 small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. 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 insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases 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?

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a big of Goldin’s debut novel, The Escape Room because it was was just too over the top for me (I know a lot of people loved it, so definitely read it if you get a chance). That being said, I thought the The Night Swim was absolutely fantastic.

Rachel Krall runs an incredibly successful true crime podcast. For season three, she has chosen to follow the investigation of a rape trial in the small town of Neapolis. In this case, the all-star swim athlete is accused of raping the granddaughter of the local police chief. While trying to focus on the investigation, Rachel keeps receiving mysterious letters asking for her help in investigating a case that happened in Neapolis 25 years prior. The death of Jenny Stills was ruled as an accidental drowning but the person writing the letters insists that Jenny was murdered. To make matters worse, as Rachel starts asking the people of Neapolis questions, no one wants to talk. So what really happened to Jenny? And will the granddaughter get justice or will her rapist walk free?

First and foremost, if rape is at all triggering to you, you will most definitely have a difficult time reading this one as you do get flashbacks to when the rapes take place. While I think that this is something that the author handles with grace, she does not shy away from the details.

When it comes to stories that feature alternative formats such as epistolary and podcasts, I find that they make for better audiobooks especially when you have multiple cast members like you do in The Night Swim. I thought that both Hannah’s letters and Rachel’s podcast cohesively blended into the story and enhanced it rather than detracted.

As far as characters go, I absolutely loved Rachel. Rachel has to ask tough questions as she follows both the rape trial as well as investigates the death of Jenny Stills, but she never backs down from possible leads even when she knows that that they could potentially put her life in danger. She is gritty, fierce, and determined to get justice even if who we think the victim is may not be the case. She is always on the side of truth.

From start to finish, the plot is propulsive. I was immediately sucked into the horrifying rape trial as well as the story of Jenny Stills. Both of them are raw, honest, and utterly heartbreaking. I definitely had moments during the rape trial when I just wanted to stop because I felt like I was being ripped in half by the sheer injustice of the so called justice system. I was angry but also not surprised.

This is one of those books that really walks that fine line of fiction and nonfiction. All of the events within the courtroom and the way society treated both the rape victim and Jenny Stills is EXACTLY what plays in society. Some people will say parts of this book were predictable and this wasn’t a true thriller. I don’t disagree, but I also think the author was trying to achieve something more than your standard thriller, she a damn good job doing so.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing an advanced listening copy through NetGalley. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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