Into the Water is a visceral, suspenseful story that has you hooked on a complex mystery from the very first page. Set in a quiet British town with a lot of quirky character, the book starts with the death of Nel. The river/pool running through the town has been the murder weapon of choice for residents throughout the centuries. It’s where they’d drown witches, as well as other troublesome women. Nel is nothing if not a troublesome woman.

It’s an event that’s stumped the police, family members, and even her enemies. Did she jump, committing suicide, or did something else cause her to land feet first into the pool, mangling and killing her?

That mystery spans the entire novel, but is interspersed with a half dozen other mysteries that are very carefully and very skillfully hinted at and revealed through the chapters. What really caused Katie, a 15-year-old girl and best friend of Nel’s daughter, to drown herself? What is Mark, the high school teacher, so desperate to hide? What does Detective Sean have to fear about Nel’s death? What is Patrick, Sean’s father, so guilty of?

Most of all, how does each and every one of these questions intertwine with the ultimate mystery – what happened to Nel, why, and who’s responsible?
Lies, murder, witchcraft, sex, and drugs all play a role with Into the Water – along with the connection between sisters, forgiving past mistakes, taking back your independence, and discovering what true loyalty really is.

The characters are complex and realistic. I especially enjoyed how starkly the writing style changes from character to character; it makes their voice vivid and enveloping, like listening in on a private conversation. The hints to the mystery are spread delicately but brilliantly, with characters speaking in between the lines and sometimes lying to themselves. You always want more, but you’re never dissatisfied with what you have – and don’t worry, all questions are eventually answered.

Clear your schedule and find a reading buddy to start the book with you – it’s worth several hours to dive into, and you’ll definitely want someone to discuss it with.

Into the water by Paula Hawkins is published by Doubleday
£10 buy it now Waterstones