The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (2014)

The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsSo it’s not a comedy, that’s for sure. Rachel Watson is a depressed alcoholic whose husband left her for another woman as a result of her out-of-control drinking. Since then she also lost her job, but hasn’t told her flatmate. Instead, she continues to take the commuter train to London every day, which happens to take her right her old neighbourhood. She can even see her old house, number 23, where her ex lives with his new wife and baby. She also sees number 15, the home of a couple she’s never met but constructs a fantasy about them – a happy and successful couple she names Jason and Jess, in love and faithful to each other. Until the morning she sees “Jess” in the arms of a man who is not “Jason.” Jess is actually Megan, and when she goes missing, Rachel decides to tell the police what she saw. But they quickly pin her as an unreliable witness, and potentially even a suspect, given she was seen in the neighbourhood when Megan was last seen. Rachel doesn’t remember – she’d been drinking heavily and apparently went to talk to her ex. This is Hawkins’ first novel, and it’s well plotted, moving at a good pace with a lot of clues and persuasive false leads to keep the reader guessing. I identified the killer about halfway through but second-guessed myself more than once. The characters are all a sorry mess, so if you’ll forgive the joke, it’s like looking at a train wreck. Rachel’s flatmate Cathy is the only redeeming person in the whole thing. Even the baby Evie irritates! So as long as you enjoy a bit of schadenfreude, this will entertain you to the very last page, where a shocking revelation caught me by surprise. I see Dreamworks has picked this up for a movie, so be sure to read the book first.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: (in particular, scroll down to check out Kemper’s review. Nailed it!)


About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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