Sunday, 1 July 2018

SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Catherine Steadman

I rarely read thrillers, but I was on  holiday and desperate.  Also I’m getting old and my standards are lowering.  I recall I noted on this blog the first book I ever read on an e-reader, and I should note that this is the first book I ever read entirely on a phone.  It was a surprisingly comfortable experience.  I read most of it while sick with a cold in a hotel room in Napa.  Then I snatched victory from defeat by going out to drink Californian wine on top of my medication.

It was easy to get through most of it in a marathon session, as it is a quick and compelling page turner.  It’s written by an actress (from Downton Abbey) and I take my hat off to her, because I thinking writing more-ish commercial fiction must be much harder than it looks. Take this fabulous opening, of the first chapter (titled, amazingly, ‘The Grave’): 
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?  Wonder no longer.  It takes an age.  However long you think it takes, double that.
The story begins with a  couple on honeymoon finding some papers in the sea outside their hotel, and quickly descends to theft and murder.  I won’t tell you anymore, as it’s hard not to immediately start spoilers, but let’s just say GONE GIRL is an influence, though not in the way you think.

I’ll close with the book’s opening quotation, which is surprisingly high brow, and very excellent. 
If a victory is told in detail, one can no longer distinguish it from a defeat. 
I love that. It speaks to how hard it is to get anything done, not least, I suspect, writing a book that made it into Reese Witherspoon’s book club.  It’s not Oprah, but I’d still call it victory.

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