Title: The Night Swim
Author: Megan Goldin
Length: 10 hours (352 pages)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for fans of: true crime podcasts
Content Warnings: sexual assault, rape
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?
This book was marketed as a thriller, but I think it is more accurately classified as part mystery, part courtroom drama. When Rachel Krall visits the small town of Neapolis to cover a local rape trial for her true crime podcast, she begins receiving mysterious notes from a woman named Hannah, who claims that her sister’s drowning death twenty-five years before was no accident. Although Rachel wants to focus all her energy on making season 3 of her podcast a success, she feels drawn to investigate Jenny’s death.
The courtroom coverage was brutal and heartbreaking, with clear parallels to the Brock Turner case. This book creates a stark picture of rape trials in America and how poorly the justice system treats traumatized victims. I got very emotional during the trial scenes.
I really enjoyed the chapters that were episodes of Rachel’s podcast. They translated really well to audiobook and and made me wish it was a real podcast I could subscribe to! I thought that the connections between present-day trial and Jenny’s disappearance in the past could’ve played a stronger role earlier in the book. I wish Hannah’s letters had felt more integrated into the overall story rather than a distraction from what I considered the main plot.
This book was full of suspense, and while it wasn’t entirely unpredictable, it had a few surprising twists and gut-wrenching scenes. I recommend The Night Swim for fans of mystery, suspense, and true crime podcasts.