Book Review: Learning to Swim

Sigh. I am working on my house again this evening. I am decluttering the bathroom and ridding it of 10 years’ worth of old cosmetics and toiletries. There’s so much stuff. So many tubes of lipgloss and body lotion and boxes of tampons and packs of aspirin and spare toothbrushes and god knows what else. Multiples of everything. Deodorant. Hair bands. Nail files. Billions of those little bottles of shampoos and conditioners that you get from hotels.

While I am scrubbing and dusting and throwing away old tubes of mascara, I’ve finished listening to an audio book, Learning to Swim, by Sara Henry, in which an annoying woman, who goes by the annoying name of Troy Chance (shut up already) rescues a child who’s been thrown into a lake in Canada and spends the rest of the book alternating between trying to find out who threw him off a boat and sort of slightly falling in love with this child’s dad, a handsome and rich but also passive and only ambivalently interested French guy, a situation I think we can all relate to.

Troy has some kind of day job, but once she’s bravely rescued this kid and got involved with his dad, only later notifying the police, she thinks nothing of throwing herself into full-time amateur detective work and strangely enough the police don’t tell her to stop interfering in their investigations, even though she is contaminating evidence and endangering herself and witnesses left, right and centre. Probably if I’d realised I’d picked up a suspense novel, I would have expected this, but I don’t think I would be any more tolerant of it. Her actions are not that credible and the attitude of the police doesn’t line up with anything I know about the police. I don’t get the impression that they are really big fans of amateur sleuths. The rest of the time, when she’s not sleuthing, she hangs around the house of the French guy, Philippe, because he seems to want her there even though, bewilderingly, he never tries to have sex with her. Sigh. And then the rest of the time when she’s not doing that, she’s engaging in internal monologues about how great she is at fixing bicycles or why she’s a fucking genius at IT security, even though she doesn’t know the first thing about how to cover her tracks when doing her sleuthing online, meaning she is easily found by anyone who wants to find her, such as the killer.

Meh. I read – or listened to – this book as a result of a couple of good reviews on Audible, but honestly I would give it a miss if I were you. By the time you get to the surprise ending you are wondering why everyone is such a dumbass. The killer is smarter than everyone else, but in the memorable words of Graham Norton, referring to a Big Brother contestant in days gone by, this is only like saying that a sheep is cleverer than some worms. I’m giving it 2/10 because it has quite a catchy beginning, even though Troy gives you fair warning of her self-obsessed personality as she manages to twice shoe-horn in mentions of her ‘mini-triathlons’ even as she is flailing around in a dark, icy lake, trying to save a seven-year-old boy from certain death. The more I think about it, the more I can see why the French guy is ambivalent.

1 Books point for persevering with it until all the characters had dry clothes on and had been returned to their proper addresses, and 1 Home point for persevering with the bloody bathroom.

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