The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Mystery/Thriller 323 pages 4/5 stars.
The girl on the train is Rachel. On her way into London each morning, her train stops for a signal just outside her old neighborhood. From the train window, she has a view of a row of houses on the street where she used to live with her ex-husband. He still lives there with his new wife and child, but it’s not them that she watches through the the window. True she’s still snooping around and trying to contact her ex and his wife but it’s another couple who she watches and obsesses over. And then one day, that other woman goes missing. And Rachel thinks she knows why. Except she’s been hitting the bottle pretty hard since her life fell apart and she can’t remember most of her memories, or trust what she remembers. She might know what happened but her memories of that night are blank. Is she repressing a bad memory? Or protecting herself from the truth? The psychological thriller is not really my genre of choice but I enjoyed reading this one, maybe because I figured out the ending about halfway into the book. I could have done without a couple of the chapters and at least one of the characters was a red herring. But overall, it kept me interested. Thumbs up for this debut novel.
2. The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty Fiction 388 pages 4/5 stars
What do you get when a woman (Sophie) inherits a house from an old woman she has only met once? What if that old woman is Connie, the grand aunt of her ex-fiancé? How will the family react? What is the family secret? And who did Connie choose as the perfect match for Sophie before she died?
But all that is just the back story. The real story is a family secret – the mystery surrounding a couple that disappeared over seventh years ago, leaving behind a baby that Connie has raised. What is the truth? And why, after almost 70 years, are they forced to celebrate the last anniversary?
The Last Anniversary is far from being Moriarty’s best novel. I figured out the twist pretty early – although that might just be that my detective skills are getting better. Some of the side plots were sub-par, and Sophie’s search for love was irritating at best. Some of the women were intially characterized as really weak until they changed, dramatically, to emerge as strong women. Grace annoyed me endlessly.
Novels by Moriarty: Now that I’ve read three of Liane Moriarty’s novels, I feel qualified to tell you a few characteristics I noticed in all 3, and that you’ll probably find in her books.
- The female characters will have deep, strong relationships.
- The men are flawed.
- The plot involves a secret, some long ago mystery that has never been revealed. And you won’t be able to guess what it is either, although there will be clues coming from every angle.
- A character dies.
- The book will be written from almost every characters perspective – even the character that dies gets to tell his/her story first. In the beginning, each major character might get a chapter. But as their lives intersect, they get paragraph.
- The ending will disappoint you somehow – there will be at least one controversial situation to which there is no single happy ending. But that’s life. No happy endings in life either.
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?