This Is Water

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This Is the Water
352 pages

The Hypnotic Thriller

This mesmerizing novel follows Annie, a distracted middle-age mother of two who volunteers for her daughters' highly competitive swim team. While Annie squeezes her girls into expensive sharkskin-style racing suits, grieves over the recent death of her brother and wonders if there's any real love in her marriage, a serial killer is swimming a few lanes over in the same pool. Which girl he plans to murder and how and when he attempts the act creates excruciating tension for the reader—as do the three acrobatic plot twists at the end. But what really draws you in page after page, is Murphy's ability to slip in and out of different characters, switching from Annie to rigid, overweight fellow-swim-parent Dinah to forgotten Mandy (the pool janitor) to young, insecure Kim, who stares at her wall of prize-winning ribbons, thinking "how one day when the ribbons reach the bottom of her bedroom floor, then she might pull the curtain aside, step out from behind it, show the world who she is." The resulting intimacy you develop with each character takes this book beyond compelling into seriously addictive: You feel as they feel, be it fear, loss, longing or that most gripping of all feelings, love. Do not miss it.
— Leigh Newman