This is the Water – Yannick Murphy
This is a novel about a woman. About a mother. About a marriage.
About a murder.
In the brightly lit public pool the killer swims and watches. Amongst the mothers cheering on their swim team daughters is Annie. Watching her two girls race, she’s thinking of other things. Her husband’s emotional distance. Her lost brother. The man she’s drawn to.
Then she learns a terrible secret. Now her everyday cares and concerns seem meaningless. Annie knows she has to act. Above all, she must protect her children.
Review copy kindly provided by Bookbridgr and Headline Review
This is the Water is going to split the crowd. It has a very unusual narrative style that I suspect will put a lot of potential readers off the book. If I open my copy at a random page we find:
“You’re wrong,” you say. Chris swallows hard. You can hear the swallow. You are afraid the tears will start coming down again.
Chapters frequently begin along the lines of “This is the Water”, “This is Mandy”, “This is the Killer.” I suspect that many readers will find the writing style a distraction which is a real shame as Yannick Murphy has penned a beautiful story which is dripping with detail and emotion.
The story is centred around a swim team as the (mostly) girls train for competition. We see their lessons, share the excitement when they beat their best times and feel the disappointment when they miss their targets. In the background a Killer is watching the swimmers, he has selected a victim and is waiting for the right time to pounce. Once he does we see how the loss of one of their numbers shakes up the various characters and brings some closer together.
The book takes an almost abstract narrative which I found took a little bit of getting used to; but stick with it as the rewards are there. As a reader you are afforded a view into the minds of the key characters– their hopes and dreams, neurosis and fears. Conversations can almost seem redundant at times but you don’t miss them as the author does an amazing job of building a world around you and letting you know, for example, that the spiteful lady is coming into view and we really are not meant to like her.
By the time I had reached the last third of the book I was engaging with the characters to such a degree that I found that I was getting frustrated or annoyed with what they were doing – it is not often I lose myself to a story to this extent.
As always there will be no spoilers in my review, but if you fancy a murder tale that is exquisitely told then This is the Water should make your shortlist.
As an afterthought: on finishing This is the Water I had a quick look at some other reviews and found my suspicions were right – some readers hated the writing style. I stuck with it and am glad that I did, beautiful prose, excellent characterisation and some good plot twists which threw me at the end.
Even if you don’t enjoy the story I am pretty sure that Yannick Murphy has provided so much detail that you will be a better swimmer once you have finished the book.