Crime fiction writer L M Krier reviews Paula Hawkins' Girl on the Train
I tend to be a bit like the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes. The one who just has to point and say 'The King is in the altogether.' So deciding to post a review flying in the face of all the gushing over a No. 1 Best-seller felt like donning my tin hat and sticking my head above the parapet.
But, never one to avoid controversy, I posted my 3-star review on Goodreads and was pleasantly surprised at the results. There was quite a bit of 'I thought the same but didn't want to be the only one to say so' going on behind the scenes. So here, once again, is my review:
I tend to avoid any over-hyped book like the plague, until all the fuss has died down, and this one was certainly well hyped. But I happened to notice it on the library shelf so decided to see what the fuss was about.
Starting with the positives. Rachel, the girl of the title, although far from being a girl, is a well-drawn character in many respects. It's strange that she is described as so overweight, given the demons which plague here, which often have the opposite effect, but perhaps she is in the early stages.
Every day she takes a train to London and back, and on the way, observes the occupants of a house, attributing names and personalities to them. Now we come to the first of many 'that's a bit like ...' moments, with more than a nod to Hitchcock's Rear Window. One day Rachel sees something which shatters her illusions and when the woman from the golden couple she has been observing disappears, she goes on a mission to find out the truth. Here's the nod to the obsessive searching in the earlier Elizabeth Is Missing, a superior book, in my opinion.
Now for some of the less than positives. The identity of the killer was so obvious from quite early on that I really hoped I was mistaken and there was a twist yet to come. Alas not, and I was right with the reasoning behind the character, too. Not that that was difficult.
Next on to the police 'investigation' - I use the term loosely. I could not believe the amount of confidential information Riley was sharing with every man and his dog. I was surprised, too, at the amount of information given out to the press and all and sundry when suspects were in custody. I thought that had changed, post-Leveson, but then I haven't been in the UK for ten years.
On to the final death. The problem here is that a post-mortem examination would have put paid to the ending of the book entirely as it would have shown up what actually happened. Not to mention any sort of forensic examination of the scene, which should have happened. I kept visualising John Luther shaking his head and saying, 'It's not right though, it's just not right.' Oh well, it was a nice cosy ending so let's not quibble.
Overall it was a reasonable read and I didn't at any point feel like stopping. I read it relatively slowly as I read in French which slows me down. It's an okay book, nothing really all that wrong with it, apart from the points I've highlighted, and a few other niggles. I certainly didn't find anything in it to justify the hype though, although that is, of course, just my humble opinion.
****POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT****
If you are a fan of 1940s classic cinema, then look away now, for the next 'this reminds me of ...' moment ..........
The biggest 'this reminds me of ...' moment, and the reason I knew the killer and his back-story from quite early on, was the similarity with the excellent 1944 American thriller-mystery starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, Gaslight. To gaslight someone even became a verb, which is relevant to this book. It may, of course, be pure coincidence.
Retired journalist, freelance copywriter and copy editor Lesley Tither writes under various pen names for different genres. Already well known for travel memoirs as Tottie Limejuice, Lesley also writes crime fiction under the name L M Krier.
Lesley's first crime thriller, 'Baby's Got Blue Eyes', was published in February 2015, followed by 'Two Little Boys' in June 2015. Books 3 and 4 in the DI Ted Darling series, 'When I'm Old and Grey' and 'Shut Up and Drive' are now available and Book 5 in the series will appear later in 2016."Sell the Pig" is the first in a series of travel memoirs describing how Lesley, writing as Tottie Limejuice, decided to make the move from the UK to France to start a new life, taking with her an 89-year-old mother suffering from vascular dementia. The story continues in three further books, 'Is That Billinge Lump?', 'Mother, Was It Worth It?' and 'Biff the Useless Mention'. A fifth book in the 'Sell the Pig' series is scheduled for release later in 2016.Her first children's fiction book, writing as L M Kay, will be published later in 2016. 'The Dog with the Golden Eyes' is an exciting children's crime thriller.Lesley also writes under the collective pen name of Jilli Lime-Holt, together with authors Jill Pennington and Janet Holt. Their first joint book, Take Three Birds, was published in December 2014.Lesley is a former journalist, working as both a criminal court and coroner's court reporter. She also worked as a case tracker for the Crown Prosecution Service, and for a firm investigating irregularities in offshore finance. Her other jobs have included owning and running a holiday riding centre and acting as a 'charity mugger', lying in wait to sign up shoppers for a wildlife charity.Lesley's interests centre around nature and wildlife and encompass dogs, wild camping and organic gardening. She lives in the Auvergne region of Central France and holds dual French/British nationality. Her current dogs are two rescued border collies.