Now this is more like it. This thriller was indeed that and more. Just because I raced through this in one feverish afternoon and early evening does not mean that I skimmed the thing. Many times I had to go back and re-read a passage, not because it was unclear or convoluted, but because the writing was so damned dazzling.
Rachel is a drunk. Her husband left her for another woman. Divorced, a friend has taken her in. She lost her job months ago when she insulted a client during an especially wine-soaked lunch, but cannot bring herself to tell her flatmate (or truly face it herself) so she takes the train to and from London every day, as if she were still punching the clock. The train she rides goes past the house she shared with her ex-husband; indeed, he lives there still with his new wife and their infant daughter. Rachel not only keeps an eye on them as the train trundles past but also on a couple a few doors down, concocting stories in her head about who they are and the charmed life she believes them to live. When the wife goes missing, she feels she knows enough about them to insinuate herself into the investigation.
How much better life must have been for jealous drunks before emails and texts and mobile phones, before all this electronica and the traces it leaves.
I will not spoil anything here, I feel strongly that it’s worth going into more blind than not. I will say that Rachel’s trajectory was fascinating and complex, with the queasiness, breathlessness and unreliable memory a couple of bottles of wine or several canned gin and tonics can bring. A solid debut.