There’s a lot to admire about Catherine Steadman’s psychological thriller, Something in the Water. First off, that’s a great title. Honeymooning couple Erin and Mark find a bag of money and diamonds floating in the water off the coast of Bora Bora. Guess what? They decide to keep it.
The “finding a bunch of money and deciding, against your better judgment, to keep it” is a basic premise, used by everyone from Scott Smith in A Simple Plan to Cormac McCarthy in No Country for Old Men.
The novel starts off with the best scene in the book–Erin digging a grave for her husband. It’s a riveting scene, and Erin as a narrator has a voice fraught with urgency, reflection, and astonishment.
The novel needs to start off with a bang, because then not a lot happens over the next hundred pages as we learn of Erin and Mark’s love, courtship, career issues, ambitions, etc. Until the money find.
And heroine Erin, whose voice seemed so compelling while digging the grave, turns out to endlessly chatter inside her head: overthinking, overanalyzing, repeating herself. She gets annoying and the book seems too long because of it.
On the other hand, you can get caught up with her and her perils as she tries to get away with keeping the money. A subplot about her career as a documentary filmmaker dovetails nicely with the main plot, as does husband Mark’s recent firing from his job in finance.
Like most novels in this genre, the protagonist possesses some pretty dubious decision-making skills, which leads to more and more trouble, and plot plausibility gets stretched, but the point of these stories is to suspend your sense of disbelief and hop on for the ride. If you like doing that, you should like this book.
Steadman’s second novel, Mr. Nobody, came out recently. Another great title. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other.
3 stars out of 5