First off, I’d give a strong trigger warning for anyone who is a survivor of sexual assault or rape and may still be experiencing trauma from it. Goldin tackles this topic with an unflinching look at how our legal system and society handles survivors who come forward with accusations. But she does handle the issue with an incredible amount of sensitivity for the millions of men and women who are survivors.
This story follows the courtroom drama around a present-day sexual assault case in which a teenage girl accuses a small town’s star athlete of allegedly raping her. Rachel Krall, the main character, focuses on this case for the third season of her successful true crime podcast, and she uses it to explore the wildly different reactions that people have when an individual is accused of a sex crime and the difficulty of proving such a crime in a court of law. While Rachel covers this case for her podcast, she is led to investigate what happened to Jenny, another teenage girl in the town who was found dead twenty-five years ago.
From the book jacket: “The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.”
This book is part courtroom drama and part mystery/thriller. Goldin did her research around sexual assault cases, including how rape kits work and what tactics the prosecution and defense use in the courtroom. I would say that her approach to the story is more cerebral, rather than emotional. There is a journalist’s curiosity within the writing (Goldin worked as a foreign correspondent for the ABC and Reuters), which makes for an interesting look into the legal machinations around a sex crime. But as a reader, I wanted to feel more emotionally connected to the characters. Even the main character, Rachel, served mainly as an investigative journalist rather than a fully formed character with flaws, needs and a compelling personal journey. Still, the unfolding of each of the parallel stories is smartly crafted and paced beautifully. And both stories lead to a gripping -- and what could be termed ‘crowd-pleasing’ -- end.
Beyond a love of research, Goldin shows real range as an author: I appreciate the difference in subject matter and tone between Goldin’s last book, The Escape Room, which centered around Wall Street greed, and The Night Swim, which revolved around around sexual assault in rural America.
I’d describe this as more of a crime thriller rather than a psychological thriller, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone who likes courtroom dramas or mysteries!
Thank you #netgalley and @stmartinspress for the ARC of #thenightswim!