night swim megan goldin
Book Review / Megan Goldin / Reviews with Spoilers

Megan Goldin | The Night Swim

night swim megan goldin

The Book: 

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, 2020

The Characters: 

Hannah, the sister of Jenny who died 25 years ago
Rachel, the investigating podcaster
Scott, the accused rapist, and Kelly, the victim

The Plot (from Goodreads):

After the first season of her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of 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 small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. 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 seems to want to answer. 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.

Click here for book spoilers for The Night Swim
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Night Swim, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

Vince Knox, a character witness for Scott, was formerly known as Bobby and had been there the night Jenny was raped and killed. He also witnessed Scott raping Kelly, and came forward with his testimony at the end of the case. 

Hannah’s letters tell us that she was there when Jenny was raped. Bobby tried to defend Hannah and was pushed into the campfire. Hannah went to get a gas station attendant to help Jenny, but she was gone when they got back. They later found her body floating in the ocean. 

In the present, Hannah talks to the gas station attendant and gets him to tell her the name of Jenny’s rapist. Hannah asked the murderer to come to the jetty to confess. It was Dan Moore–the father of Kelly, the current rape victim. Rachel met Hannah at the jetty and recorded his confession. 

When Hannah had gone to get help for Jenny, Dan had come back to “clean up” Jenny. He dropped her into the water off the jetty, and since she was so injured from the rape she was unable to swim and drowned. Dan was the one that crashed the car and killed his friends. His dad (the chief of police) helped him cover it up and place the blame on Bobby. 

Dan threatened to kill Rachel and Hannah, but Rachel told him she was streaming the recording to her producer and he let them go. Hannah jumped into the ocean anyways, but Rachel rescued her. 

The Ending:

Scott was found guilty of sexual assault and sexual battery. Hannah apologized to Rachel for manipulating her and putting her in danger. 

Dan Moore killed himself and staged it to look like a boating accident to protect his daughter from the shame of finding out what he did.

The Review: 

Let me start by saying that I loved this book, but I wouldn’t consider it a thriller. It was too slow and not twisty enough to be considered a thriller. I’d call it more of a slow-burn mystery or courtroom drama. But I’ve seen it advertised EVERYWHERE as a psychological thriller, so that’s what I was expecting when I started it. 

As a fan of courtroom dramas and this new means of using podcasts to tell a story, I loved it. I listened to it as an audiobook, and I think that does these podcast dramas a lot of justice. I listened to Are You Sleeping a few months ago before watching Truth Be Told on Netflix, and found the writing to be very similar to how The Night Swim was told. There’s also I Know You Know, which I also enjoyed the writing style of. 

I loved Rachel as the main character. You could really feel her emotions and how much she cared about doing the case justice in her podcast, as well as about helping Hannah. 

I would be thrilled if Megan Goldin decided to turn this into a series, as it feels like the ending was sort of set up for one. Sign me up for an ARC if so!

Click here for spoiler discussion
It was never really clarified how Hannah tracked Rachel down (given that Rachel was so protective of her private life) and how she kept managing to leave the notes without being caught. I also didn’t quite understand why she didn’t just talk to Rachel, other than her sneakiness giving the book a little suspense. I was disappointed that this wasn’t tied up better in the end.

This was a Book of the Month pick last month. Haven’t checked out Book of the Month yet? Use my code for $10 off your first box. (I get a $10 credit too, but that means more reviews for me to share with you!)

Read this if you liked: 

  • Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
  • I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan
night swim megan goldin
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