Book Review: Heads You Win

The Tale of Two Girls

It was by coincidence that I got to read the Girl on the Train and Gone Girl one after the other.  As it turned out, Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn was published in 2012, while the Girl on the train, written by Paula Hawkins, came out in 2015.  Both were bestsellers and while Gone Girl is also a motion picture, the Girl on the train is soon to be one.

The Girl on the Train is based in London.  There is Rachel, who takes the train every day, ostensibly to work.  The train passed by her old house, where she used to stay with her ex-husband Tom.  She also gets to see nearby houses and among them, one where a couple (Megan and Scott) stay.   One day, she finds Megan with another man from the train and is disturbed.  Soon, she reads about the disappearance of Megan.

Rachel is drawn to the crime scene thereby meeting Anna, Tom's current wife. Anna and Rachel detest each other. Rachel is alcoholic and often blacks out.

What happened to Megan?  Who was the mysterious person with whom she was?  How did Rachel become alcoholic and why does Tom still care for her?

These are the questions that gets answered in the book.  Written in first-person narrative of Rachel, Anna and Megan, in turn, we get to see how these seemingly disconnected characters get linked.  The book is fast-paced and the build-up to the climax, beautiful.

Gone Girl is set in Missouri.  It starts off fairly slowly, as it describes the life of Nick Dunne, a journalist, who lost in job thanks to the internet age and who now runs a bar in Missouri with his twin sister.  His wife Amy, a magazine writer, also unemployed now, disappears from their home on their wedding anniversary. A search party is organized to find her, but in vain.   As the police start investigating, they get clues, which seem to indicate that Nick may have had a hand in his wife's disappearance.   Amy's parents are authors of a book series "Amazing Amy".  They try to help in the search as well.

What happened to Amy?  Was Nick responsible for this?

Such a simple plot is so astonishingly built by the author, leaving the reader spell-bound.  The suspense is revealed in the midpoint of the book, but the reader still does not know how it is going to end.

Gone Girl is on the longer side, and I personally did not go beyond the initial pages, when I first read it.  But both the books are superb and well-worth the read.  I now need to see the movie to see if it has done justice to the book.


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