Two weekends ago, I packed up my studio apartment and moved to a new, one bedroom with my boyfriend. This meant dismantling the bookshelf I’d worked so hard to organize and starting fresh.
As I was unpacking and reorganizing our books, I made a discovery. The white hardcover without a dust jacket that my aunt had given me in a box with many other dust jacketless-hardcovers was Something in the Water, the Something in the Water that my friends had talked about and that Reese Witherspoon chose for her book club.
Excited and previously in the middle of a book slump, I sat down on my new blue couch and read the whole thing in one night.
This is the first non-Harlan Coben mystery I’ve read in a while and I loved that it combined a murder mystery with a love story. Two of my favorite things.
I’m also a sucker for giving us a quick glimpse of present day before rewinding and building back up to that flash forward. It always makes me flip the pages faster to find out how we got there!
Something in the Water starts with Erin burying the body of her new husband, Mark. We don’t know why, we don’t know how, all we know is he’s been dead for a few hours and she’s hiding his body.
We flashback three months. Erin and Mark are soon to be married and are celebrating their anniversary. Erin is in the middle of a work breakthrough, receiving funding for a prison documentary she wants to make and has chosen three perfect subjects to follow. Mark has made a work decision too — he wants to leave his job and find something that will be better suited to the family he and Erin want to start.
It all starts to go south when Mark’s boss finds out his intention to leave and fires him on the spot.
With the wedding weeks away and income slashed, Erin and Mark have to make new plans and shorten their 3 week honeymoon in Bora Bora.
Mark takes Erin scuba diving, something she hasn’t done since she was much younger because of a bad experience. On their boat ride back to the resort, they spot something in the water. Duh duh duh…
The something is a bag full of millions in cash and pure diamonds, worth millions as well. A gun and a flash drive are in the bag as well. Mark scuba dives in the same location and finds a plane wreck at the bottom of the sea, one that has gone completely unreported.
When Erin and Mark make the decision to keep the bag and its contents for themselves, everything starts to unravel.
Until eventually, we find ourselves back where the book began. This time, we know why.
Review (Spoilers Included)
I liked Something in the Water more than enough to read it in practically one sitting. I found myself caring about what happened to Erin and was especially enthralled by the documentary scenes and the characters involved in the making of that.
Eddie, one of the three prisoners interviewed, is supposed to be a gray-ish character. He’s definitely done more than his fair share of bad, but something about him pulls on your heartstrings. I was rooting for him the whole time and enjoyed the bond he and Erin formed.
One of the other subjects, Alexa, becomes a good friend to Erin and I thought her story was a bit of a red herring. As I was reading, I speculated on Mark’s death and thought maybe it had been an assisted suicide. When we find out Alexa is in prison for the assisted suicide of her mother, I was sure I was right! I’m glad I was not, but her story was powerful and I loved her reunion with her father.
But back to the main plot. Spoilers below.
It was absolutely no surprise to me that Mark was bad. I felt he was painted bad immediately from the beginning of the novel, in his tone of voice, actions, speech and attitude. I was anticipating him playing a major part in his demise and therefore found the reveal very anticlimactic.
What bothered me most, however, were the unanswered questions. We never found out why that plane crashed, who the passengers were and why they had that bag. We never found out what was on the flash drive. It apparently doesn’t play a part in the resolution.
That’s fine, a choice I wouldn’t have made but an understandable one nonetheless. What I’d really like to know is, how did the bag get there in the first place?!
When Erin and Mark travelled to their scuba diving location, they never passed a ton of floating papers and a bag. Suddenly, a few hours later on their way back, there it all is? I didn’t buy it. Does that mean the plane crashed while they were scuba diving? That makes no sense either. Plus, Mark scuba dove to the plane and all the doors were sealed. How did the bag and all the papers escape?
It’s possible that the last question was answered in the book, but if it was, then it was only in a brief passage and not important enough to stick in my mind. To me, that’s a big plot hole if there is no logical explanation.
I was able to suspend my disbelief over this to enjoy the rest of the book and the unfolding of the mystery, but I wish these questions had been unpacked further.
Overall, I liked Catherine Steadman’s easy and captivating writing style, and I’m grateful that I found this book on my shelf and that it got me out of my reading slump. I look forward to reading whatever she puts out next.
3 out of 5 stars.