The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am so glad Paula Hawkins included Cathy, Rachel's landlord, as a minor character in The Girl on the Train because she is the only decent person in the book. She's not a Mother Teresa type, but she has trouble abandoning her friend when she's needed and that's a good thing. The others are liars, adulterers, and drunks. Throw in a detective who isn't very good at her job because she prejudges the suspects and you have the main cast of this novel. It isn't so much a “who done it” as a “who cares who done it.”
The Girl on the Train is being compared with Gone Girl, a novel that also has a dysfunctional cast of characters. Both books are still good reads, because they are interesting character studies of people with serious flaws.
Rachel, the main character of The Girl on the Train, is an insecure young woman with a drinking problem. Her marriage is over and she's lost her job, but she still hasn't dealt seriously with her addiction. She lives in Ashbury, a suburb of London, and rides a train back and forth to the city each day, so she won't have to admit to her landlord that she's been fired. While on the train she stares at the people she passes and makes up fictional lives about them. She also passes the house where she used to live. Her ex is still in the house, along with his new wife and their child.
Something happens to someone who lives a few houses down from Rachel's old home and she becomes consumed with finding answers. The interesting problem is that she's a witness, but she'd been drinking and has blacked out what she saw. That's the basic premise, but the book is really about the demons that drive people to screw up their lives.
I would recommend this to readers who like dark, fast paced novels with a decent amount of tension.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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