Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

by Heather Caliendo
book review the night swim - book club chat

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin is a very intense and relevant thriller. 

This summer I’ve primarily read contemporary fiction stories. So it was time for a thriller. I’ve seen a ton of positive reviews for The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. And I really enjoyed her previous novel The Escape Room. So when it was time to make a selection for my August Book of the Month, I went with The Night Swim

I enjoyed the true crime podcast aspect as this is actually more of a crime book rather than just straight up thriller. But it’s intense and very hard to read at times. FYI, strong trigger warnings and graphic content. 

The synopsis

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name―and the last hope for 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 new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation―but the mysterious letters keep coming. 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 in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases―and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

True crime

We all know that true crime media has exploded in popularity. I’ve listened to a couple true crime podcasts and watch Dateline as least once a month. So I feel that I enjoy the genre enough but not obsessed. I mean, it’s hard to listen/watch that type of media all the time. 

Anyway, I thought the author Megan Goldin handled the podcast/true crime aspect so very well. I really liked that she included chapters dedicated to episodes of Rachel’s podcast. I could actually see her writing a sequel with Rachel investigating another crime in the future. So that part I liked. But let’s get into the intense parts. 

Hard to read

The story is about the mysteries behind what happened to two different women in the small town. There are graphic descriptions of rape. It’s very difficult and grim subject matter. The rape trial case is quite similar to those you’ve seen in the news. And that’s what makes it so difficult. This isn’t some odd thriller that goes in all kinds of random places, the crimes are realistic and we do see them happen time and time again.

But man, you just don’t feel great after reading this book. That’s not to say it doesn’t end well but it’s a rough road. I am happy I didn’t read this before bed because I know I would have trouble sleeping. 

All that said, there is a lot to discuss with book clubs with this one (check out my book club questions here). But before selecting this book, I would make sure that each member is comfortable with reading such an intense and dark book like The Night Swim.

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