I have the feeling of being too near to something I don’t want to be near to. To something dangerous. I can’t quite see what it is yet, but I feel it; it feels close. I feel the trapdoors in my mind creaking under the strain of what lies underneath. But then, of course, it could just be free money and everyone loves free money. Someone might have made a mistake, and if it doesn’t hurt anyone…then we could keep it. Free money for us. And it’s not like we don’t need it. (p. 119)
Who knew that Reese Witherspoon was a reader, or even the host of her own book club? And who knew that Catherine Steadman, who played Mabel Lane Fox in Season 5 of Downtown Abbey, calls herself a writer? Actresses becoming book mavens…I had to see what the fuss was about. For Something in The Water, one of Reese’s Book Club picks, is popping up on every screen I open with accolades too bold to ignore.
The title alone bears the immediate question, “What? What is in the water?” Could it be lemon sharks? Blacktipped sharks? Tiger sharks? Could it be panic from scuba diving more deeply than one is comfortable with doing? I must admit I was a little curious from the title, but not from such boring writing as the text quoted in the beginning of this post.
Erin and her new husband, Mark, are on their honeymoon in the South Pacific when they chance upon “something in the water.” (I’ll tell you what it is in the spoiler below, in case you don’t want to read the whole book; truly, I wish I had just known what it was so that my curiosity could be abated, and I could begin a new piece of translated literature of which I am so fond.) Their lives are immediately complicated by the allure of this discovery compounded with one foolish decision after another.
One can almost see how a young couple would be tempted to thwart professionals in their naivety, but I tired of their stupidity (particularly Erin’s stubborn perseverance into realms she had no business entering). Worse yet, I knew that her husband was not entirely straightforward when I was halfway through the novel. I’ve read Need to Know, The Girl on The Train, The Woman in The Window, The Couple Next Door, The Wife Between Us, The House Swap, and Our House, all of which are presented as thrillers only to resemble themselves in poor mimicry more often than not. I have been truly surprised at a novel’s conclusion quite infrequently, such as Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent which was over 30 years ago.
Something in The Water may be the “talked about book of the summer”, but frankly, I don’t see why. I’m still waiting for a truly spectacular thriller to find its way into my hands. Something that held the power of The Day of The Jackal, Shibumi, or even The Bourne Identity which I adored in college.
Spoiler: This novel does have an interesting premise, that while out on the Pacific a young couple should find themselves suddenly surrounded by floating sheets of paper. Then, they hear a thunk-thunk-thunk against the side of their boot which turns out to be a nylon bag which has been zipped up and locked. They bring it to their hotel room, cut it open, and find two million dollars as well as a bag of 2 carat diamonds, an iPhone and an USB port. When they go back to the coordinates they have recorded, and Mark dives underwater to explore further, they find that a small plane has crashed and landed on the ocean floor with several people dead inside. The rest of the novel carries us through their temptation to keep the money, as well as the jewels, and the efforts they will make to hide their tracks in doing so. Somewhere along the way, Mark’s true character emerges which leaves Erin saddened, and as we knew from the first chapter, widowed.
Personally, I think that both Reese and Catherine ought to stick with acting.
How about you? Have you read it? Do you think I am the only one who is yet again disappointed with today’s “psychological thriller”?