“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?”
-Synopsis from StoryGraph
*light spoilers ahead*
The Night Swim was one of my Book of the Month picks for June. When I heard about this book last year, I immediately added it to my To-Read list but wasn’t sure when I would get around to reading it. Now, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it because it was such a good book!
Rachel Krall is traveling to the fictional town of Neapolis, North Carolina to cover an upcoming trial for her popular true crime podcast. While on the way there she receives a mysterious note on the windshield of her car from someone asking for her help. At first, Rachel doesn’t think she can help this person and feels sorry for them. But the person manages to find her just about everywhere she goes in Neapolis, leaving letters each time, and eventually Rachel gets pulled into the story of the person’s missing sister.
While covering the rape trial in Neapolis, Rachel soon learns that there are similarities between what happened to the victim in the trial and what happened to the girl who drowned twenty-five years ago. Rachel becomes involved in both cases and uncovers dark secrets about Neapolis that the town residents have tried to keep buried for decades.
The story is told through three perspectives and I think this is what I liked about it so much. We have Hannah’s past being told through her notes to Rachel, Rachel’s present day narrative, and short episodes of Rachel’s podcast. I have read other books that incorporated the podcast-episode style of chapters and for some reason they didn’t hit quite as hard as this particular book. I think The Night Swim is a great example of this storytelling device being used effectively.
I was so wrapped up in this story that I intentionally dragged out my reading. Have you ever done that? I wanted to make the book last as long as possible, and to soak up as much of it as I could without tearing through it and potentially missing details.
Some of the topics discussed in this book may be disturbing for some readers. I would encourage checking out the content warnings beforehand so you aren’t caught off guard.
I would love to read any future books by Megan Goldin, and would recommend The Night Swim to anyone who enjoys mysteries and especially true crime.