Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
All the characters that share this novel’s narrative are deeply flawed and unlikable. But they all have one thing in common, they make bad decisions, repeatedly and without fail. Rachel, the protagonist, is very hard to sympathise with. She’s an alcoholic who is still in love with her ex-husband of two years. Rachel toes the line between desperate and pathetic and any time her ex-husband is brought up I wanted to knock some sense into her.
Megan, a woman Rachel has no personal connection with but romanticizes about from a distance, is selfish and petty with a rocky past and an undetermined future. Anna, the other woman responsible for stealing Rachel’s husband, is narcissistic and callous. And everyone one of them is an unreliable narrator with details and clues being lost in the change of perspectives. It is interesting to note that all three narrators define, at least a part of, their self-worth by the men in their lives and their ability or desire to have children.
The murder mystery is very tame. It barely felt like a thriller or a mystery more like the jumbled confused ramblings of a woman who got herself in a bad situation. Yet somehow it did mange to be subtly chilling, you’re not consistently scared for your life but there are moments when shivers are unavoidable. I was surprised and disappointed by the ending. Surprised, because I actually hadn’t guess the ending though in retrospect it seems obvious. Disappointed, because it was still anticlimactic.