This is one of those 4-stars-while-reading, 2-stars-when-done kind of books. It is suspenseful and well-written murder mystery - Hawkins is a master at creating a full and rich environment, and at doling out information slowly to keep you reading. It is absolutely a page-turner! And I had high hopes because I really enjoyed her break-out novel, The Girl on the Train. This one is not as well plotted, and has way too many POVs. The story is told by more than 10 different characters, which made it hard to sink into. I actually started a note in my phone as I was reading to help me keep track of people (thought it was just me and my distracted brain, but then I saw on Goodreads that a lot of others felt the same).
The story centers around the recent death of Nel Abbott at a place called The Drowning Pool - a portion of the river that runs through town, where several women dating back to the 1600s have died, either by suicide or murder for being deemed a "witch." At first blush, Nel's death appears to be a suicide, but many are skeptical that this strong-willed woman would do such a thing... especially since she was writing a book about the deaths at the Drowning Pool. These deaths also include her daughter's best friend, Katie, just a few months earlier.
The cast of characters includes Nel's daughter and her estranged sister, Katie's parents and brother, the police inspector and his wife and father (and absent mother, who also died at the Pool), the old, crotchety clairvoyant who speaks to the dead women, and other townspeople. They all keep catching each other in lies, with suspicion of murder landing on almost everyone at some point.
The gloomy town feels like it could be modern-day Salem, MA, with it's history of supernatural superstitions and witch trials. It was a fun October/November read. I'd recommend it if you like witch-related content &/or murder mysteries! It's just one of those books you'll really love reading, and then when you're done you'll move on quickly, like, "Ok, cool... So, what's next?!"
UP NEXT: Where the Dead Sit Talking, by Brandon Hobson