Jenny Stills died and her sister Hannah cannot come to terms with the death 25 years later. Memories flood back and the events of that night are described as we hear her innermost thoughts and fears till this day. Guild plays a huge part in what happened to Jenny that night when she supposedly went for a swim and fell over the area where she was swimming. Hannah feels that Jenny was murdered and her mother before she died voiced that, but the police deemed it a tragic accident caused by her excessive drinking and more. That is the prologue and the beginning of this mystery as we learn more about Hannah and get an uneasy feeling about her in the present.
A night swim that is the spark or the impetus for Hannah’s odd and unusual way of contacting Rachel Krall in the present as she claims she did in the past since Rachel has a podcast that deals with crimes that need to be investigated and her podcast over time broadcasts events of these crimes hoping to decide : Not guilty or guilty taking you right into the jury room and justice!
In the present Rachel is going to cover a story in a small town called Neapolis where everyone knows everyone, opinions tend to be one sided at times and the cast of characters are hiding something that might open up more than a ton of cans of worms for truths come out as Scott Blair is on trial for the rape of Kelly Moore. Different voices will be heard as Rachel and Hannah alternate in the thoughts. Hannah is constantly trying to get her attention by leaving notes on her car, other means of communication and then making Rachel feel that she is being stalked. Hannah never meets her at the arranged time in person and Rachel has to video her broadcast for the upcoming trial and keep the public up to date as her partner and tech person, Pete reminds her that the podcast comes first and looking into the death of Jenny needs to wait. But Rachel is impetus and determined to learn more, but the library files only have a limited number of short articles or paragraphs about her death and yet something is drawing her to find out the answers that no one did years ago.
Dealing with the upcoming trial Rachel meets with the parents of both Scott and Kimberly and gets a different perspective from both. Scott is an Olympic hopeful with a full scholarship and more that he lost because of the accusations and his arrest. Kimberly seems withdrawn and claims he raped her instead of driving her home as he said he would. The accounts of the event are told by different people and the sympathy card is played by both sides. But who is telling the truth? Kimberly the victim or Scott the second victim? Either way someone is going to lose!
Guilty or Not Guilty if the name of her podcast and as we hear her voice, follow her trend of thought and watch the video in your own mind you the reader will decide whether the defendant Scott Blair, represented by Dale Quinn is guilty or innocent. Kelly Moore is represented by Mitch Alkins and secrets and lies about him and others will come out because of the link between this case and Jenny Stills.
An eerie feeling reigns over the words of Hannah as she reveals in her own time and place information about what she remembers and the truth about someone in the present might link to the death of her sister in the past.
A trial that is cruelly, a judge who takes no prisoners and tolerates no grandstanding and wants the trial down to the point and no theatrics, will Scott testify in his own defense? Will K or Kimberly take the stand? As Rachel cannot stop hunting for the truth about Jenny will she find herself in the same place as she did before she might have been killed?
The opening statements are diverse as Alkins pins his remarks about Scott Blair so on target that you can feel the responses and the intense scrutiny of the jury as they hear what he intends to present concerning Kelly Moore and the rape. In opposition Quinn lays out his plans to take her testimony down, claim she wanted whatever he dished out and that the rape never happened. The trial is tense, and the podcast transcripts are described Rachel’s observations during the trial, her opinions about what she thinks about both Scott and Kelly and the hidden truths behind Hannah and her sister.
A trial that became controversial as the witnesses take the stand and both lawyers hope to drive their points home to the jury who at times seem disinterested. Some witnesses more powerful that others but through it all Rachel seems distracted and bent on finding out more about Jenny’s death and then a harsh reality comes to light when someone confirms what she believes. Someone close to the case at hand is related to the one from the past and things will get tense, lies, betrayals and a murder will come to light as Jenny took at swim one night, drown but did she or did someone help her to her death?
A podcast that is compelling and personal information shared by Rachel about her own dealings with men and rape, you wonder if that’s why she is so fierce to bring justice for what happened to Kelly or just to justify it for herself.
The two cases blend and mix as Hannah is relentless in making sure that Rachel does not give up on Jenny’s death. Her voice is strong and we hear and vividly see the events that caused her to be injured, who made sure she would be helpless and not be able to defend her sister and stop what was happening to her.
In the present the trial is over but one lone witness might change the outcome and then learn about what happened the night his two friends her killed. Lies, cover ups, betrayals and two young lives hand in the balance as author Megan Goldin brings to light the issue of rape and the fact that the victim is often victimized, stereotyped and cast aside as the person trying to ruin the life of the rapist. The verdict is in and the jury has decided you will not believe the outcome. Added in the person who killed Jenny is now facing both Rachel and Hannah will this person get away with what was done 25 years ago.
A powerful ending that leaves the reader wondering why the laws are not stricter and the rights of the victim protected. Kelly must face her life and hopefully get some help to deal with what happened? What about Scott? Hear the voice on the phone and you decide if the jury’s verdict was just. Guilty or Not Guilty the podcast that puts you in the jury box! If you were on the jury what would your verdict be? A storyline that could be ripped out of the headlines and two characters Rachel and Hannah that stand strong and tall by their convictions. What happens when two young girls face of with two desperate young men? What is the truth behind the Night Swim?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews