Rachel Krall, a successful podcast journalist travels to a small, conservative coastal town in North Carolina to cover a rape trial. Intelligent, curious, and a champion of justice, Rachel’s podcast signoff is “I’m Rachel Krall and this is Guilty or Not Guilty, the podcast that puts you in the jury box.”
On her way there she is contacted by a woman named Hannah Stills who wants Rachel to investigate the death of her elder sister which took place in the town twenty-five years earlier.
The town is very divided – with many of the townsfolk championing the victim, and all that she has suffered – and many of them championing the accused, and his aspiration to be an Olympic swimmer. Both lawyers are charismatic and very skilled. They both used wily theatrics to further their arguments.The trial goes on for two weeks, with the victim being traumatized by her cross-examination on the stand.
Meanwhile, Rachel continues to receive letters from Hannah Stills, who tells the story of her sister’s fate in excruciating detail.
“Sometimes a man has to speak up or be responsible for the repercussions of his silence”.
This novel had me absolutely riveted throughout. Both story lines were compelling, but my favorite of the two was the story of Jenny and Hannah Stills.
The book covered many social problems. It spoke to how ‘justice’ can sometimes be bought. That if you want a decent defense you have to pay through the nose. It shows the disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. It also touched on the subject of ‘victim blaming’, a common occurrence in rape trials. It chronicled how very important reputation is to the psyche, and how social media has ascertained that everyone wants to voice their opinion, whether they are based on facts…. or not.
The setting, coastal North Carolina was fabulous and I could almost smell the briny air. The characters were well drawn and the plot tight and believable.
In my opinion, the ending was very satisfactory and it also left the narrative open enough that this could potentially be the beginning of an interesting series – though I have no idea if the author intends to bring Rachel Krall back in further books.
This was an easy 5-star read for me. No question. I’ve not read this author before, but she will now be one I look out for. Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.
Prior to becoming an author, Megan Goldin worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia, where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs.
The Night Swim is Megan Goldin’s third novel following the best-selling The Escape Room (2018) and The Girl in Kellers Way (2017).