Published: August 4, 2020
After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
A podcast investigator covering her first present-tense criminal trial is thrown for a loop by a radical new development in a much older case.
Now that she has two successful seasons of Guilty or Not Guilty under her belt, Rachel Krall is ready to turn from reopening old cases to following one as it unfolds in real time. Champion swimmer Scott Blair is about to be tried for the rape and sexual battery of Kelly Moore, who attends the high school he graduated from the year before.
Prosecutor Mitchell Alkins and rock-star defense attorney Dale Quinn agree that the two teenagers had sex on the night in question, but they don’t agree whether it was consensual. So Rachel’s come to Neapolis, North Carolina, to attend the trial, prepare daily summaries of every twist and turn, and assure her listeners that every broadcast “puts you in the jury box.” As the trial proceeds through an unsparing barrage of she-said, he-said testimony, Rachel finds the objectivity she’s promised her listeners increasingly compromised by her growing sympathy for Kelly.
A far more serious complication begins even before the trial with a furtive series of notes from Hannah Stills, whose older sister, Jenny, was raped, beaten, and drowned back in 1992. Certain that her sister’s assailant, who’s never been punished or identified, will be present in the courtroom, Hannah writes that she’s finally ready to reopen her own painful past and reveal knowledge about her sister’s last night that she’s never shared with anyone else. But though Hannah begs for Rachel’s help, she fails to show up at every meeting she proposes, leaving Rachel to wonder whether she’s really a will-of-the-wisp—and incidentally, what these two assaults a generation apart could possibly have to do with each other.
As Rachel beings to investigate the death of Jenny, she soon finds parallels between this old case and the modern-day rape. Something truly rotten occurred 25 years ago in Neapolis and now the past has come back to haunt those involved. Can Rachel bring justice after all these years and how will her findings impact the current trial?
One of the most distinctive aspects of The Night Swim is Goldin’s frank and comprehensive look at sexual assault crimes. The book’s narrative focuses on two separate but similar sexual assault cases that occurred within 25 years of each other. Goldin not only provides details of these crimes but also dives into other elements of rape and assault, such as how victims are impacted in the aftermath, how sexual assault crimes are viewed in society and very little has changed around this in recent years. This novel paints a particularly grim picture on the entire legal process surrounding the process for investigating and prosecuting rape cases and there are some fascinating, if horrifying, examinations of how society still has trouble coming to a consensus when it comes to these crimes, and how cases like these can divide communities and nations.
I thought I was reading this book to decompress from the last one but now find myself needing to decompress from this one! It’s a very emotional read/listen and had me captivated from the beginning. I wasn’t happy with the verdict in the rape trial, but it seems North Carolina has some strange rape laws. I looked it up and the author was on the money.