SPOILERS. This discussion will give away seminal plot points. You’ve been warned.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, a Haiku Review
when everyone is
a liar the mystery
folds against itself
I need to vent about this one a little more.
Okay, I really enjoyed the first half of this book. I read this passage from the Megan chapter Thursday, March 7, 2013: “Afterwards, he talks to me in a way he hasn’t done before. Usually I’m the one doing all the talking, but this time he opens up. He talks about feeling empty, about the family he left behind, about the woman before me and the one before that, the one who wrecked his head and left him hollow.”
I immediately knew that the killer was Tom. The two women he is referring to before Megan are Anna and Rachel. The book has set this up and I see it clear as day. My Kindle says I am 30% through the book. Now, I don’t mind figuring out who the killer is so early because I don’t know the why. And I actually love the thought that Tom’s still so distraught over his breakup with Rachel, our unreliable, yet likable, protagonist. Go Rachel! To the passerby, he seems so happy with Anna (hateful bitch, also pretty one-dimensional), but he’s really “wrecked” and “hollow” over Rachel. This is an interesting revelation. Does he still love Rachel? If she gets her shit together will they reunite? But, he’s a killer? Ah! I was conflicted in all the best ways. So how does Tom unravel to potentially kill all the main female characters in the book?
In the end, Tom is just a liar. He lied about everything all the time, motivated or not. He is a straight up sociopath. I didn’t particularly buy Rachel forgetting/repressing the many situations of physical and emotional abuse inflicted by Tom, blaming the memory loss on her alcoholism. But by that point I didn’t care, because the villain was just a liar. And he loved Anna, after all, and wanted to keep his family intact at all costs. So the whole line that gave away his killer status…was a lie. He’s ready to kill Rachel without a second thought. It was all so unsatisfying. The villain was one-dimensional, no method to his madness, madness to explain away the nonsensical. That does not a good reveal make.