(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Still grieving the death of her marriage, lonely Rachel Watson finds comfort in routine. Every weekday morning, she boards the 8:04 train that runs to London from her home in Buckinghamshire. Every evening, she returns on the 5:56. As the familiar rhythm of the ride lulls her, she sips an early drink (which will be followed later by another and another and another ...) and watches the landscape blur outside the train's window. She pays close attention as her old neighborhood rolls past, drinking in the sight of her former home, where her ex-husband lives with his new wife. It's not him who Rachel really wants to see, though—it's Jason and Jess, the golden couple that lives down his street. She's never met them, doesn't even know their real names, but she can tell just from observing them that they have a beautiful, fulfilling life together. "They're happy, I can tell," she thinks. "They're what I used to be, they're Tom and me five years ago. They're what I lost, they're everything I want to be" (10).
Rachel's spent so much time spinning a perfect life for the couple that she's shocked by what she sees one day from her seat on the train. She's even more surprised to spy a familiar face on the front page of the newspaper a few days later. It's "Jess"—really 29-year-old Megan Hipwell, who has gone missing from Rachel's old neighborhood. Worried about her "friend," especially in light of what she saw from the train, Rachel determines to find out what happened to Jess. Not an easy task when your mind is as muddled from alcohol and depression as is Rachel's. Still, she has to know. But the more she persists, the more discomfited she grows. Although she has little memory of it, Rachel was there the night Megan disappeared. In fact, she just may be the reason Megan Hipwell is missing—or worse.
I don't want to say too much about the plot of Paula Hawkins' popular psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train, for fear of ruining plot surprises. Trust me, it's best to go into this one knowing as little about the story as possible. Suffice it to say, The Girl on the Train is a mesmerizing tale of suspense, full of intriguing characters, taut narration, and didn't-see-that-one-coming plot twists. Maybe the book's a tad predictable, maybe it doesn't quite live up to all the hype it's gotten, but still, it's a riveting, first-rate mystery. I literally could not put it down.
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for strong language, sexual content, violence, and depictions of excessive drinking/illegal drug use
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of The Girl on the Train from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.