From Yannick Murphy, award-winning author of The Call, comes a fast-paced story of murder, adultery, parenthood, and romance, involving a girls’ swim team, their morally flawed parents, and a killer who swims in their midst.
In a quiet New England community members of swim team and their dedicated parents are preparing for a home meet. The most that Annie, a swim-mom of two girls, has to worry about is whether or not she fed her daughters enough carbs the night before; why her husband, Thomas, hasn’t kissed her in ages; and why she can’t get over the loss of her brother who shot himself a few years ago.
But Annie’s world is about to change. From the bleachers, looking down at the swimmers, a dark haired man watches a girl. No one notices him. Annie is busy getting to know Paul, who flirts with Annie despite the fact that he’s married to her friend Chris, and despite Annie’s greying hair and crow’s feet. Chris is busy trying to discover whether or not Paul is really having an affair, and the swimmers are trying to shave milliseconds off their race times by squeezing themselves into skin-tight bathing suits and visualizing themselves winning their races.
When a girl on the team is murdered at a nearby highway rest stop—the same rest stop where Paul made a gruesome discovery years ago—the parents suddenly find themselves adrift. Paul turns to Annie for comfort. Annie finds herself falling in love. Chris becomes obsessed with unmasking the killer.
With a serial killer now too close for comfort, Annie and her fellow swim-parents must make choices about where their loyalties lie. As a series of startling events unfold, Annie discovers what it means to follow your intuition, even if love, as well as lives, could be lost.
With her obscenely suspenseful latest, Murphy (The Call, named one of PW s best books of 2011), who is known for her stylistic experimentation, tries out a second-person perspective and a continual this is structure that takes some getting used to, but that works thanks to the fact that the author breaks up the book into 48 short chapters. You are Annie, a New England mom driving your two daughters to and from swim meets, married to an emotionally aloof husband whose encyclopedic mind and frequent recitations of factual tidbits drive you crazy. But you, the novel s protagonist, don t know everything that you, the reader, know for instance, only the reader knows the identity of a serial killer scoping out potential next victims on the swim team. Therefore the book s real tension centers on which of the characters will uncover the killer first, making this inverted murder mystery a whogotit rather than a whodunit. Potential detectives include the beautiful Chris, a fellow swim team parent; her husband, Paul, whom Annie develops a crush on; Mandy, the facility janitor; and even the unlikely Dinah, one of the more amusing characters a villain of the judgmental suburban mom variety. Though the novel starts off galloping, it does slow in the middle as Annie s thoughts become tiresomely repetitive (she dwells on Paul to distract herself from recurring memories of her brother s suicide, even after Paul reveals to her his secret connection to the ongoing murders). But in Murphy s hands, the structure becomes almost hypnotic and when the story hits full speed in the final quarter, the suspense becomes almost excruciating.