Hello Bookworms! I’m so honored to be partnering with St. Martins Publishing Group for the blog tour of THE NIGHT SWIM by Megan Goldin.
Genre: suspense, courtroom drama
Published: August 4, 2020
Source: St. Martins Publishing Group
I was eager to read this new title from Megan Goldin since I thought her debut, The Escape Room was very well done. There are two storylines at play that Rachel Krall is investigating for her popular podcast. One is the rape trial of a local boy accused of raping a high school girl. The second storyline is more mysterious and is slowly revealed through letters Rachel receives from “Hannah” who thinks her sister was murdered 25 years ago.
Rachel is an interesting main character and it’s a clever concept to have her investigating by day and recording her podcast by night.
This is not a fast paced title and I didn’t feel the same tension as with her previous book. I felt a lot of empathy for both of the victims but I didn’t connect with Rachel like I wanted to. It was difficult to believe that everyone was so willing to give her information about the case and I didn’t get a real sense of Rachel’s personality.
The subject matter was handled respectfully and sensitively and there is an important message about victim blaming, but I was hoping for a more powerful resolution.
TW: graphic descriptions of repeated gang rapes and victim shaming
It was Jenny’s death that killed my mother. Killed her as good as if she’d been shot in the chest with a twelve-gauge shotgun. The doctor said it was the cancer. But I saw the will to live drain out of her the moment the policeman knocked on our screen door.
“It’s Jenny, isn’t it?” Mom rasped, clutching the lapel of her faded dressing gown.
“Ma’am, I don’t know how to tell you other than to say it straight.” The policeman spoke in the low-pitched melancholic tone he’d used moments earlier when he’d pulled up and told me to wait in the patrol car as its siren lights painted our house streaks of red and blue.
Despite his request, I’d slipped out of the back seat and rushed to Mom’s side as she turned on the front porch light and stepped onto the stoop, dazed from being woken late at night. I hugged her withered waist as he told her what he had to say. Her body shuddered at each word.
Click here to continue reading: The Night Swim – excerpt
In The Night Swim, a new thriller from Megan Goldin, author of the “gripping and unforgettable” (Harlen Coben) The Escape Room, a true crime podcast host covering a controversial trial finds herself drawn deep into a small town’s dark past and a brutal crime that took place there years before.
Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation—but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases—and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
Q&A with Megan Goldin
1. Your previous novel, The Escape Room, was set in the world of Wall Street high stakes investment banking. How did you decide to set your next book in a seaside resort community?
For me, part of the pleasure of writing is to explore characters, places, issues and even writing styles. When I finished writing The Escape Room, I was interested in expanding my horizons as a writer rather than embarking on a new novel that would tread similar ground to The Escape Room. I’d been reading about several sexual assault cases going through the courts and I was interested in exploring some of the issues in my fiction. Not just about sexual assault itself but about the judicial process and the effects of it on families. As for my choice of location, my process is that I sit down and start writing, and let the story unravel in a very organic way. So when I started writing The Night Swim, the setting sort of chose itself!
2. Rachel, the main character in The Night Swim, hosts a true crime podcast. Are you a fan of those types of podcasts yourself? Why do you think they’re so popular these days?
I love podcasts and I listen to them often, while exercising, cooking and driving. Of course among the podcasts that I enjoy most are true crime podcasts although I also enjoy history podcasts and current affairs podcasts as well. True crime podcasts are popular because people are fascinated by the dark side of human nature. Like many podcast listeners, I became a fan after listening to Serial. I quickly became addicted to other podcasts as well. The biggest problem right now with true crime podcasts, and podcasts in general, is that there are so many fantastic ones around. I wish I had more time to listen to them all.
3. What made you decide to write the book from a dual point of view? Did that make it easier or more challenging to explore the parallel storylines?
It’s actually quite challenging writing from multiple points-of-view as each narrative has its own ‘voice’ and style so it’s quite a complicated process. I often start my writing day by spending the first couple of hours just reading back on the previous chapters of that particular point-of-view so that I can get the ‘voice’ back of the character before I start writing.
4. Are courtroom scenes difficult to write? How do you keep the energy or tension up?
I’ve read novels and watched movies with terrific courtroom scenes over the years. When done well, powerful courtroom scenes are among the most memorable scenes in films and books. So I have to admit that I rubbed my hands with glee when I had the opportunity to write the courtroom chapters. It’s almost as if I’d been working towards writing those chapters my entire life!
5. The tight-knit town in the story is torn apart over charges that the town’s “golden boy” brutally attacked a young woman. Were there any real-life cases you drew from to tell this story?
There wasn’t any specific cases that I based the novel on but there were many sexual assault cases that had been in the news over the years that I had read about. Many of them left a deep impression. When I started writing The Night Swim, I went back and read courtroom transcripts from some of these cases as well as other cases that came up in my research. I also read, watched and spoke with as many people as I could in order to get an insider view of what happens when these cases are brought to court.
6. The parallel storyline involves someone (Hannah) leaving mysterious notes for Rachel, begging her to investigate their sister’s death from decades ago. Why was their approach so secretive, and at first, vaguely threatening?
Hannah had a traumatic childhood because of what happened to her mother and sister. She never really recovered from those childhood traumas so she was understandably wary about whether her story would be taken seriously. She was a fan of Rachel’s podcast and she truly believed that Rachel would get justice for her sister if she only knew what had happened, but she also knew that she needed to find a way to connect with Rachel and get her attention. Following Rachel, and leaving messages for her was her way of connecting. Hannah was so focused on getting to the truth about what happened to her sister that she didn’t realize that it might be perceived as threatening.
7. The Night Swim looks at how sexual assault victims who come forward often face an equally traumatic ordeal with the investigation and publicity. How did you portray this with sympathy and care, while still keeping the pages turning?
I tend to put myself in my characters shoes when I write so I found it emotionally gruelling to write some of the chapters related to sexual assault in The Night Swim. I felt an enormous obligation to be as accurate as possible about what sexual assault survivors and their families go through. So I did as much research as possible and wrote, rewrote, edited and re-edited those scenes many times over. I did my very best to write it with the respect and sympathy that the subject matter deserves as it’s a truly harrowing trauma that affects people for the rest of their lives.
8. A nightingale makes regular appearances throughout the book. Are you a bird lover yourself? What made you include that in the story?
As part of my research, I’d read about the Greek myth of Philomela. She was raped and then silenced when her tongue was cut out and eventually turned into a nightingale. There are various interpretations of the story but some suggest that the silencing of Philomela symbolises the silencing of women over the centuries. So that’s how the nightingale found its way into the book. As for whether I’m a bird lover: I’m living in Australia right now and we have magnificent wild parrots and rainbow lorikeets which are the most stunning rainbow colored birds that live in the trees by my house. We’re currently locked down due to coronavirus so it’s somewhat liberating watching the beautiful Australian birds fly around freely even if we are stuck at home.
9. I hear you just got a new puppy to help you and your family get through the lockdown in Melbourne. Tell us about her!
I jokingly call her our lockdown puppy but in truth we’d been thinking of getting a puppy for a long time. She is a Labrador puppy and we were lucky to get her because in Australia there is such a demand for dogs right now that there are few rescue dogs available and pedigree breeders have multi-year waiting lists. My beloved Lab cross died of cancer a few years ago and I’d been waiting until my kids were old enough to get a new puppy. I volunteer to care for temporary guide dog puppies so our new puppy was always going to be a Lab of some description. They are beautifully natured dogs although they spend the first year tearing the house apart as they chew everything in sight. My last Lab ate books from cover to cover. With the pressures of the lockdown and the effect it has on kids, it’s a welcome distraction for my kids to have a puppy to help raise.
About the Author
MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room was her debut novel.
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