Something in the Water
Simon & Schuster
Review: Chantel Erfort
Catherine Steadman’s debut thriller starts with protagonist Erin digging a grave.
We learn – in almost agonising detail – how much hard work it is. And within the first few pages it is revealed that it’s Erin’s husband Mark whom she is burying.
And if by now you’re angry that I’ve given away a “spoiler”, not to worry. It’s the where, why and how that this story is all about.
While I felt the first chapter or two were entirely overwritten – okay, I get it, Erin really loved Mark and he was really good looking – I soon got into Steadman’s rhythm of story-telling and eventually couldn’t put down what was ultimately a gripping read.
When we are first properly introduced to Mark and Erin, they are not yet married, blissfully in love and preparing for their nuptials.
But then Mark loses his high-paying job in the banking sector and the two are suddenly faced with the prospect of having to downscale and learn to live a humbler life.
Around the same time, Erin is working on a documentary film which involves interviewing three convicted criminals who are about to be released from prison.
Despite their fears about the future, Erin and Mark tie the knot and decide to “go for broke” by booking an extravagant holiday in Bora Bora.
It is there that they make a discovery that changes their lives forever and the story explores how seemingly ordinary people can become criminals and how easily morals may be comprised when money is involved.
The rest of the story is a tangle of mystery, deceit, secrets, paranoia – and a string of opportunities for Erin to draw on her prison contacts for help. Something in the water makes for gripping reading if you can get past the first few overwritten chapters and at the end, there are 10 questions and topics for discussion for you to ponder on.
These include, among others, the impact money can have on relationships, how survival instincts influence actions and the reader’s response to the main character.
The lucky winner of The Sun Sister was Louise Tucker of Bergvliet.