Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Title: The Night Swim

Author: Megan Goldin

Published: 4th August 2020, Michael Joseph

Status: Read August 2029 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia


My Thoughts:

“The trial starts next week. We’re in this together. Let’s see where the evidence takes us. I’m Rachel Krall and this is Guilty or Not Guilty, the podcast that puts you in the jury box.”

To ensure the continued success of her popular true crime podcast, journalist Rachel Krall decides to broadcast a trial from small town Neapolis in North Carolina, where the town’s ‘golden boy’, the college-aged, only son of wealthy parents, destined for Olympic swimming success, stands accused of the assault and rape of a sixteen year old girl. Rachel is on her way into town in advance of the trial when she discovers an envelope under her windshield wiper. The letter within begs Rachel to help her deliver justice for another sixteen year old girl, Jenny, who was murdered in Neapolis twenty-five years earlier.

“…I don’t get how we can almost unanimously agree that murder is wrong, but when it comes to rape some people still see shades of gray”.

Unfolding from the perspectives of Rachel, and the letter writer, Hannah, The Night Swim by Megan Goldin is a harrowing read that explores issues related to sexual assault, and its impact on individuals and within communities. Goldin’s approach is compassionate and thoughtful, but pulls few punches, so readers sensitive to the topic should be wary, though this story is certain to stir a range of emotions in anyone.

“That’s how the criminal justice system works. Guilty or not guilty. His word, against her word.”

Goldin has us join Rachel in the courtroom as she hears the specifics of the case from the prosecution and defence, listening to the testimony of the alleged crime from evidentiary and expert witnesses, the day’s discoveries then related in her recordings for her podcast. I thought the procedural details of the trial seemed authentic, as did the observations about the difficulties faced by prosecutors in such cases, and the ways in which the victim’s trauma is compounded by the process. Rachel tries to remain objective but it’s clear her sympathies lie with ‘K’, particularly as her own investigative digging uncovers more information.

“This year we mark a milestone. Twenty-five years since Jenny died. A quarter of a century and nothing has changed. Her death is as raw as it was the day we buried her. The only difference is that I won’t be silent anymore.”

From Hannah, we slowly learn the circumstances of her sister’s life, and how she eventually met her tragic death. My jaw grew sore from clenching my teeth in fury, frustration and disgust as Hannah describes how Jenny was victimised not only by her rapists, but also the townspeople. Only a young girl at the time who hadn’t understood what was happening to her sister, Hannah’s guilt is palpable, and despite her desire to focus on the trial, Rachel can’t help but respond to her desperate plea for help.

“Similar descriptions. Two rapes. Twenty-five years apart. In the same town.”

Eventually Rachel realises that there is some overlap between aspects of the current trial, and what happened to Jenny, and uncovering the truth behind one event, unravels the secrets of the other. I liked the way in which Goldin drew the separate threads of the story together and weaved them into a whole in a manner that didn’t feel forced, or expedient. I do consider the book to have more in common with the suspense genre, rather than a mystery or thriller, which matters little in the scheme of things though.

The Night Swim is a thought-provoking, poignant and gripping read, and there is a hint that we will meet Rachel again. I’ll be looking forward to it.


Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Moore
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 09:38:57

    Great review. I really enjoyed this book also.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. denisenewton1960
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 10:39:55

    this one sounds like a beauty, thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Helen Murdoch
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 11:06:13

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one as well. I thought it was really well done.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Mystica
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 11:58:00

    I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one. Could not get it either!

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 12:04:55

    This one sound like something I would love. And there’s a North Carolina connection Fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Tina Woodbury
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 12:22:12

    I really hope we meet Rachel again! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Melliane
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 20:42:09

    I didn’t know about this author but it looks great!

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Amanda Barrett
    Sep 03, 2020 @ 20:17:46

    I’m really looking forward to reading my copy now! Thanks for a great review!

    Liked by 1 person


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  10. Trackback: Crime Fiction Round-Up: September-October 2020 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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