Rachel takes the same train every weekday, the 8:04 from Ashbury to London, where she watches the landscape flash past, lost in the nightmares of her own tormented past. At one point, where the train slows, near where she once lived, she finds herself drawn into the lives of a couple who occupy a house near the house where she once lived with her ex-husband, Tom. Jason and Jess, as she has named them, have the perfect life she didn’t have, until one day she sees something that shatters the perfect illusion she has created. When she shares what she’s seen with the police, she finds herself drawn into the lives of the couple, and the relationship of their lives with her ex and his new wife; and no one’s life is the same afterwards.
The Girl on the Train is a debut thriller by Paula Hawkins that begins like a train journey, slowly leaving the station, and gradually picking up speed as life flashes past, mostly blurs with the occasional sharp, barely remembered glance. Hawkins pulls the reader into the lives of the characters, moving from Rachel to Megan (Jess in Rachel’s mind) to Anna, her ex-husband’s new wife, in a journey that sucks you in like the muck at the bottom of a sluggish stream. This is mystery as mystery should be—with red herrings, misdirection, in a tangled line that leads inexorably to a shattering conclusion that will leave you breathless.
I received this book as a gift, and after finishing it felt compelled to share my views on it. Rarely does a debut novel impress me the way this one did. Paula Hawkins is an author to watch out for.
A solid five-star book!