Last week I went to the cinema, and one of the trailers was for the adaptation of this thriller – leaving me absolutely desperate to read the book. When I saw it on offer a few days later, I couldn’t resist, and boy am I glad I didn’t!
I was completely sucked in, gobbling page after page until I’d finished it in a day. Hawkins’ use of several unreliable narrators is absolutely fantastic; she kept me guessing until the last chapter (I guessed wrong, but wasn’t too far off!). Although most of the critics’ praise on the book cover refers to the main character, Rachel, the narration cycles between several characters – all of whom are untrustworthy for various reasons. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to talk about the plot, but suffice it to say it’s a great concept. The writing is engaging – although there isn’t the artistic turn of phrase that I love about fantasy or modern literary fiction, Hawkins is completely convincing in writing the different voices, and nothing about the author’s hand got in the way of the story (which for me is a crucial factor of successful thriller/crime writing).
Personally, I also loved the little details of London found inside – the London commuter crowd is a huge feature of the setting and story, and I really enjoyed recognising my city through the eyes of these characters. So many stories now have an ambiguity about them – the main characters are not physically described; the location is made up, not mentioned, or only briefly sketched; the year or time of year is not specified – and I get this, I understand that these details are not always important to the story, that leaving them out can widen the readership appeal by not dating them or physically pinpointing them, that leaving details out allows the reader to engage by filling them in from their own imaginations. That said, I find a great deal of pleasure in real descriptions and specifics – it helps me connect with a book more, I think. I know lots of people disagree – in fact, in discussing the upcoming film (which is set in New York, not London), the author herself says that it could take place in any commuter town – but the accurately drawn setting of London and her crowds of commuters made the book all the better for me.
Let me know what you guys think! Did you guess whodunnit?