Title: The Night Swim
Author: Megan Goldin
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan Audio
Source: eARC, audiobook via NetGalley
Length: 352p; 9 hours, 59 min.
Publishing Date: 4 August 2020
I don’t remember even reading what The Night Swim was about once I understood that the story followed a true crime podcaster. Over the winter, I got sucked into Up and Vanished at a friend’s suggestion and this book sounded like it would fill the hole finishing season 1 left. Listening to the audiobook for Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim was not only like another season of Up and Vanished and Serial put together, but with added, distanced perspective.
In The Night Swim, the main character’s podcast’s tag line is how they put the listener in the jury box. Goldin does this for her audience as well: by offering up not just the podcast episodes, but the investigation and work that goes into putting the podcast together in a different perspective completely. This mixed media approach to fiction is something I’m noticing a trend in this summer and honestly, I love it. In the audiobook especially you can feel the difference, not just because of the change in third to first person, but because there’s even a different narrator (and intro music and even a different quality to the audio).
The Night Swim comes with a heavy trigger warning, though. This isn’t a spoiler alert to tell you the case Rachel — the main character — covers in The Night Swim is very similar to the Chanel Miller/Brock Turner case. Goldin does not hold back in her coverage of the case, either; expect full, clinical detail about a sexual assault from the perspective of a survivor telling her story from the witness stand. It’s very hard to listen to, which is the point I believe Goldin was making with this: yes we devour thrillers and true crime as entertainment and escapism but we cannot forget there are real victims, real people, these stories belong to. I also felt myself questioning how and why some stories get told. What makes people pay attention? And what are they actually paying attention to?
When it comes to rape, it seems to me “if only” is used all the time. Never about the man. Nobody ever says “if only” he hadn’t raped.Megan Goldin, The Night Swim
A coastal mystery set in the small town of Neapolis. Rachel, a famous podcast host, is heading there to cover a highly controversial trial: the rape and sexual assault of a minor by local Olympic-bound swimming hero. On her way there, she makes a pit stop for food and gas. On her way back out to her car, she finds a letter addressed to her on her windshield. This sets off a chain of events that pulls Rachel deeper not just into the case she’s in Neapolis to cover, but also into a cold case no one wanted to pay attention to, then or now.
As Rachel walked, she told herself that she was breaking a cardinal rule for true-crime podcasters: Never rendezvous with fans who leave notes on your car windshield. Never. Rachel had a tendency to break cardinal rules, so she kept walking.Megan Goldin, The Night Swim
Tense and sprinkled with elements of horror, The Night Swim has everything the perfect summer thriller needs. Not only can you lose yourself in the multiple mysteries Rachel gets caught up in, but there’s a weight to it too: a glimpse, or a reminder, that even though we binge podcast episodes, so many stories are left untold. Cases unsolved. Voices unfairly silenced because they’re not from the right family.