The Girl On The Train
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The Girl On The Train

Paperback | January 6, 2015

byPaula Hawkins

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Three women, three men, connected through marriage or infidelity. Each is to blame for something. But only one is a killer in this #1 New York Times bestselling psychological thriller about human frailty and obsession.
     Just what goes on in the houses you pass by every day?
     Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and evening, rattling over the same junctions, flashing past the same townhouses.The train stops at the same signal every day, and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess, as she calls them, seem so happy. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden. Soon after, Rachel sees the woman she calls Jess on the news. Jess has disappeared.
     Through the ensuing police investigation, Rachel is drawn deeper into the lives of the couple she learns are really Megan and Scott Hipwell. As she befriends Scott, Rachel pieces together what really happened the day Megan disappeared. But when Megan's body is found, Rachel finds herself the chief suspect in the case. Plunged into a world of betrayals, secrets and deceptions, Rachel must confront the facts about her own past and her own failed marriage.
     A sinister and twisting story that will keep you guessing at every turn, The Girl on the Train is a high-speed chase for the truth.

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The Girl On The Train

Paperback | January 6, 2015
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From the Publisher

Three women, three men, connected through marriage or infidelity. Each is to blame for something. But only one is a killer in this #1 New York Times bestselling psychological thriller about human frailty and obsession.      Just what goes on in the houses you pass by every day?      Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning an...

PAULA HAWKINS has worked in journalism for ten years. Most recently she was deputy personal finance editor of The Times. Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since, apart from brief sojourns in Paris, Brussels and Oxford, where she studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.98 × 6.31 × 0.84 inPublished:January 6, 2015Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:038568231X

ISBN - 13:9780385682312

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Customer Reviews of The Girl On The Train

Extra Content

Read from the Book

RACHELFriday, 5 July 2013MorningTHERE IS A PILE OF clothing on the side of the train tracks. Light-blue cloth – a shirt, perhaps – jumbled up with something dirty white. It’s probably rubbish, part of a load fly-tipped into the scrubby little wood up the bank. It could have been left behind by the engineers who work this part of the track, they’re here often enough. Or it could be something else. My mother used to tell me that I had an overactive imagination; Tom said that too. I can’t help it, I catch sight of these discarded scraps, a dirty T-shirt or a lonesome shoe, and all I can think of is the other shoe, and the feet that fitted into them.The train jolts and scrapes and screeches back into motion, the little pile of clothes disappears from view and we trundle on towards London, moving at a brisk jogger’s pace. Someone in the seat behind me gives a sigh of helpless irritation; the 8.04 slow train from Ashbury to Euston can test the patience of the most seasoned commuter. The journey is supposed to take fifty-four minutes, but it rarely does: this section of the track is ancient, decrepit, beset with signalling problems and never-ending engineering works. The train crawls along; it judders past warehouses and water towers, bridges and sheds, past modest Victorian houses, their backs turned squarely to the track.My head leaning against the carriage window, I watch these houses roll past me like a tracking shot in a film. I see them as others do not; even their owners probably don’t see them from  this perspective.Twice a day, I am offered a view into other lives, just for a moment. There’s something comforting about the sight  of strangers safe at home.Someone’s phone is ringing, an incongruously joyful and upbeat song. They’re slow to answer, it jingles on and on around me. I can feel my fellow commuters shift in their seats, rustle their newspapers, tap at their computers. The train lurches and sways around the bend, slowing as it approaches a red signal. I try not to look up, I try to read the free newspaper I was handed on my way into the station, but the words blur in front of my eyes, nothing holds my interest. In my head I can still see that little pile of clothes lying at the edge of the track, abandoned.Evening The pre-mixed gin and tonic fizzes up over the lip of the can as I bring it to my mouth and sip. Tangy and cold, the taste of my first ever holiday with Tom, a fishing village on the Basque coast in 2005. In the mornings we’d swim the half-mile to the little island in the bay, make love on secret hidden beaches; in the afternoons we’d sit at a bar drinking strong, bitter gin and tonics, watching swarms of beach footballers playing chaotic 25-a-side games on the low-tide sands.I take another sip, and another; the can’s already half empty but it’s OK, I have three more in the plastic bag at my feet. It’s Friday, so I don’t have to feel guilty about drinking on the train. TGIF. The fun starts here.It’s going to be a lovely weekend, that’s what they’re telling us. Beautiful sunshine, cloudless skies. In the old days we might have driven to Corly Wood with a picnic and the papers, spent all afternoon lying on a blanket in dappled sunlight, drinking wine. We might have barbecued out back with friends, or gone to the Rose and sat in the beer garden, faces flushing with sun and alcohol as the afternoon went on, weaving home, arm in arm, falling asleep on the sofa.Beautiful sunshine, cloudless skies, no one to play with, nothing to do. Living like this, the way I’m living at the moment, is harder in the summer when there is so much daylight, so little cover of darkness, when everyone is out and about, being flagrantly, aggressively happy. It’s exhausting, and it makes you feel bad if you’re not joining in.The weekend stretches out ahead of me, forty-eight empty hours to fill. I lift the can to my mouth again, but there’s not a drop left.Monday, 8 July 2013MorningIt’s a relief to be back on the 8.04. It’s not that I can’t wait to get into London to start my week – I don’t particularly want to be in London at all. I just want to lean back in the soft, sagging velour seat, feel the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the window, feel the carriage rock back and forth and back and forth, the comforting rhythm of wheels on tracks. I’d rather be here, looking out at the houses beside the track, than almost anywhere else.There’s a faulty signal on this line, about halfway through my journey. I assume it must be faulty, in any case, because it’s almost always red; we stop there most days, sometimes just for a few seconds, sometimes for minutes on end. If I sit in carriage D, which I usually do, and the train stops at this signal, which it almost always does, I have a perfect view into my favourite trackside house: number fifteen.Number fifteen is much like the other houses along this stretch of track: a Victorian semi, two storeys high, overlooking a narrow, well-tended garden which runs around twenty feet down towards some fencing, beyond which lie a few metres of no man’s land before you get to the railway track. I know this house by heart. I know every brick, I know the colour of the curtains in the upstairs bedroom (beige, with a dark-blue print), I know that the paint is peeling off the bathroom window frame and that there are four tiles missing from a section of the roof over on the right-hand side. I know that on warm summer evenings, the occupants of this house, Jason and Jess, sometimes climb out of the large sash window to sit on the makeshift terrace on top of the kitchen extension roof. They are a perfect, golden couple. He is dark haired and well built, strong, protective, kind. He has a great laugh. She is one of those tiny bird-women, a beauty, pale-skinned with blonde hair cropped short. She has the bone structure to carry that kind of thing off, sharp cheekbones dappled with a sprinkling of freckles, a fine jaw.While we’re stuck at the red signal, I look for them. Jess is often out there in the mornings, especially in the summer, drinking her coffee. Sometimes, when I see her there, I feel as though she sees me too, I feel as though she looks right back at me, and I want to wave. I’m too self-conscious. I don’t see Jason quite so much, he’s away a lot with work. But even if they’re not there, I think about what they might be up to. Maybe this morning they’ve both got the day off and she’s lying in bed while he makes breakfast, or maybe they’ve gone for a run together, because that’s the sort of thing they do. (Tom and I used to run together on Sundays, me going at slightly above my normal pace, him at about half his, just so we could run side by side). Maybe Jess is upstairs in the spare room, painting, or maybe they’re in the shower together, her hands pressed against the tiles, his hands on her hips.EveningTurning slightly towards the window, my back to the rest of the carriage, I open one of the little bottles of Chenin Blanc I purchased from the Whistlestop at Euston. It’s not cold, but it’lldo. I pour some into a plastic cup, screw the top back on and slip the bottle into my handbag. It’s less acceptable to drink on the train on a Monday, unless you’re drinking with company, which I am not.There are familiar faces on these trains, people I see every week, going to and fro. I recognize them and they probably recognize me. I don’t know whether they see me, though, for what I really am.It’s a glorious evening, warm but not too close, the sun starting its lazy descent, shadows lengthening and the light just beginning to burnish the trees with gold. The train is rattling along, we whip past Jason and Jess’s place, they pass in a blur of evening sunshine. Sometimes, not often, I can see them from this side of the track. If here’s no train going in the opposite direction, and if we’re travelling slowly enough, I can sometimes catch a glimpse of them out on their terrace. If not – like today – I can imagine them. Jess willbe sitting with her feet up on the table out on the terrace, a glass of wine in her hand, Jason standing behind her, his hands on her shoulders. I can imagine the feel of his hands, the weight of them, reassuring and protective. Sometimes I catch myself trying to remember the last time I had meaningful physical contact with another person, just a hug or a heartfelt squeeze of my hand, and my heart twitches.Tuesday, 9 July 2013MorningThe pile of clothes from last week is still there, and it looks dustier and more forlorn than it did a few days ago. I read somewhere that a train can rip the clothes right off you when it hits. It’s not that unusual, death by train. Two to three hundred a year, they say, so at least one every couple of days. I’m not sure how many of those are accidental. I look carefully, as the train rolls slowly past, for blood on the clothes, but I can’t see any.The train stops at the signal as usual. I can see Jess standing on the patio in front of the French doors. She’s wearing a bright print dress, her feet are bare. She’s looking over her shoulder, back into the house; she’s probably talking to Jason, who’ll be making breakfast. I keep my eyes fixed on Jess, on her home, as the train starts to inch forward. I don’t want to see the other houses; I particularly don’t want to see the one four doors down, the one which used to be mine.I lived at number twenty-three Blenheim Road for five years, blissfully happy and utterly wretched. I can’t look at it now. That was my first home. Not my parents’ place, not a flatshare with other students, my first home. I can’t bear to look at it. Well, I can, I do, I want to, I don’t want to, I try not to. Every day I tell myself not to look, and every day I look. I can’t help myself, even though there is nothing I want to see there, even though anything I do see will hurt me. Even though I remember so clearly how it felt that time I looked up and noticed that the cream linen blind in the upstairs bedroom was gone, replaced by something in soft baby pink; even though I still remember the pain I felt when I saw Anna watering the rose bushes near the fence, her T-shirt stretched tight over her bulging belly, and I bit my lip so hard it bled.I close my eyes tightly and count to ten, fifteen, twenty. There, it’s gone now, nothing to see. We roll into Witney station and out again, the train starting to pick up pace as suburbia melts into grimy north London, terraced houses replaced by tagged bridges and empty buildings with broken windows. The closer we get to Euston the more anxious I feel; pressure builds, how will today be? There’s a filthy, low-slung concrete building on the right-hand side of the track about five hundred metres before we get into Euston. On its side, someone has painted: LIFE IS NOT A PARAGRAPH. I think about the bundle of clothes on the side of the track and I feel as though my throat is closing up. Life is not a paragraph and death is no parenthesis.EveningThe train I take in the evening, the 17.56, is slightly slower than the morning one – it takes one hour and one minute, a full seven minutes longer than the morning train despite not stopping at any extra stations. I don’t mind, because just as I’m in no great hurry to get into London in the morning, I’m in no hurry to get back to Ashbury in the evening either. Not just because it’s Ashbury, although the place itself is bad enough, a 1960s new town, spreadinglike a tumour over the heart of Buckinghamshire. No better or worse than a dozen other towns like it, a centre filled with cafés and mobile-phone shops and branches of JD Sports, surrounded by a band of suburbia and beyond that the realm of the multiplex cinema and out-of-town Tesco. I live in a smart(ish), new(ish) block situated at the point where the commercial heart of the place starts to bleed into the residential outskirts, but it is not myhome. My home is the Victorian semi on the tracks, the one I partowned. In Ashbury I am not a homeowner, not even a tenant – I’m a lodger, occupant of the small second bedroom in Cathy’s bland and inoffensive duplex, subject to her grace and favour.Cathy and I were friends at university. Half-friends, really, we were never that close. She lived across the hall from me in my first year and we were both doing the same course, so we were natural allies in those first few daunting weeks, before we met people with whom we had more in common. We didn’t see much of each other after the first year and barely at all after college, except for the occasional wedding. But in my hour of need she happened to have a spare room going and it made sense. I was so sure that it would only be for a couple of months, six at the most, and I didn’t know what else to do. I’d never lived by myself, I’dgone from parents to flatmates to Tom, I found the idea overwhelming, so I said yes. And that was nearly two years ago.It’s not awful. Cathy’s a nice person, in a forceful sort of way. She makes you notice her niceness. Her niceness is writ large, it is her defining quality and she needs it acknowledged, often, daily almost, which can be tiring. But it’s not so bad, I can think of worse traits in a flatmate. No, it’s not Cathy, it’s not even Ashbury that bothers me most about my new situation (I still think of it as new, although it’s been two years). It’s the loss of control. InCathy’s flat I always feel like a guest at the very outer limit of their welcome. I feel it in the kitchen, where we jostle for space when cooking our evening meals. I feel it when I sit beside her on the sofa, the remote control firmly within her grasp. The only space which feels like mine is my tiny bedroom, into which a double bed and a desk have been crammed, with barely enough space to walk between them. It’s comfortable enough, but it isn’t a placeyou want to be, so instead I linger in the living room or at the kitchen table, ill at ease and powerless. I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.Wednesday, 10 July 2013MorningThe heat is building. It’s barely half past eight and already the day is close, the air heavy with moisture. I could wish for a storm, but the sky is an insolent blank, pale, watery blue. I wipe away the sweat on my top lip. I wish I’d remembered to buy a bottle of water. I can’t see Jason and Jess this morning, and my sense of disappointment is acute. Silly, I know. I scrutinize the house, but there’s nothing to see. The curtains are open downstairs but the French doors are closed, sunlight reflecting off the glass. The sash window upstairs is closed, too. Jason may be away working. He’s a doctor, I think, probably for one of those overseas organizations. He’s constantly on call, a bag packed on top of the wardrobe; there’s an earthquake in Iran or a tsumani in Asia and he drops everything, he grabs his bag and he’s at Heathrow within a matter of hours, ready to fly out and save lives.Jess, with her bold prints and her Converse trainers and her beauty, her attitude, works in the fashion industry. Or perhaps in the music business, or in advertising – she might be a stylist or a photographer. She’s a good painter, too, plenty of artistic flair. I can see her now, in the spare room upstairs, music blaring, window open, a brush in her hand, an enormous canvas leaning against the wall. She’ll be there until midnight; Jason knows not to bother her when she’s working.I can’t really see her, of course. I don’t know if she paints, or whether Jason has a great laugh, or whether Jess has beautiful cheekbones. I can’t see her bone structure from here and I’ve never heard Jason’s voice. I’ve never seen them up close, they didn’t live at that house when I lived down the road. They moved in after I left two years ago, I don’t know when exactly. I suppose I started noticing them about a year ago, and gradually, as the months went past, they became important to me.I don’t know their names either, so I had to name them myself. Jason, because he’s handsome in a British film star kind of way, not a Depp or a Pitt, but a Firth, or a Jason Isaacs. And Jess just goes with Jason, and it goes with her. It fits her, pretty and carefreeas she is. They’re a match, they’re a set. They’re happy, I can tell. They’re what I used to be, they’re Tom and me, five years ago. They’re what I lost, they’re everything I want to be.

Bookclub Guide

   1.  We all do it—actively watch life around us. In this way, with her own voyeuristic curiosity, Rachel Watson is not so unusual. What do you think accounts for this nosey, all-too-human impulse? Is it more extreme in Rachel than in the average person? What is so different about her?    2.  How would you have reacted if you’d seen what Rachel did from her train window—a pile of clothes—just before the rumored disappearance of Megan Hipwell? What might you or she have done differently?    3.  In both Rachel Watson’s and Megan Hipwell’s marriages, deep secrets are kept from the husbands. Are these marriages unusual or even extreme in this way? Consider how many relationships rely on half-truths? Is it ever necessary or justifiable to lie to someone you love? How much is too much to hide from a partner?    4.  What about the lies the characters tell to themselves? In what ways is Rachel lying to herself? Do all people tell themselves lies to some degree in order to move on with their lives? Is what Rachel (or any of the other characters) is doing any different from that? How do her lies ultimately affect her and the people around her?    5.  A crucial question in The Girl on the Train is how much Rachel Watson can trust her own memory. How reliable are her observations? Yet since the relationship between truth and memory is often a slippery one, how objective or “true” can a memory, by definition, really be? Can memory lie? If so, what factors might influence it? Consider examples from the book.    6.  One of Rachel’s deepest disappointments, it turns out, is that she can’t have children. Her ex-husband Tom’s second wife Anna is the mother to a young child, Evie. How does Rachel’s inability to conceive precipitate her breakdown? How does the topic of motherhood drive the plot of the story? What do you think Paula Hawkins was trying to say about the ways motherhood can define women’s lives or what we expect from women’s domestic lives, whether as wives, mothers, or unmarried women in general?    7.  Think about trust in The Girl on the Train. Who trusts whom? Who is deserving of trust? Is Rachel Watson a very trustworthy person? Why or why not? Who appears trustworthy and is actually not? What are the skills we use to make the decision about whether to trust someone we don’t know well?    8.  Other characters in the novel make different assumptions about Rachel Watson depending on how or even where they see her. To a certain extent, she understands this and often tries to manipulate their assumptions—by appearing to be a commuter, for instance, going to work every day. Is she successful? To what degree did you make assumptions about Rachel early on based on the facts and appearances you were presented? How did those change over time and why? How did your assumptions about her affect your reading of the central mystery in the book? Did your assumptions about her change over its course? What other characters did you make assumptions about? How did your assumptions affect your interpretation of the plot? Having now finished The Girl on the Train, what surprised you the most?

Editorial Reviews

#1 Globe and Mail BestsellerA New York Times Top Book of 2015A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2015An NPR Best Book of 2015 A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year A Guardian Best Book of the Year A Toronto Star Book of the YearA Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year  "Fans of Gillian Flynn's books will probably like this one too. I know I did. . . . It's a strong story, with a great sense of time and place, and one that had me from start to finish." —George R. R. Martin, award-winning author of A Game of Thrones“There are a lot of books promising the same chills and twists as Gone Girl; this is the first novel I’ve read that has them. Paula Hawkins’s debut is full of the same brilliant characterization and clever plotting that keeps readers wondering.” ―The Globe and Mail“[Hawkins] demonstrates a particular skill with the slow revelation of character. . . . each voice is distinctive and unguarded. . . . [Hawkins has] grace and skill with character revelation. . . . [C]areful twists and turns.” ―National Post “Send in the blizzards, because nothing as mundane as work, school or walking the dog should distract you from this debut thriller. . . . A natural fit for fans of Gone Girl-style unreliable narrators and twisty, fast-moving plots, The Girl on the Train will have you racing through the pages.” ―Huffington Post “[A] really great suspense novel. Kept me up most of the night.” ―Stephen King (via Twitter)   “The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl . . .  liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times   “There’s nothing like a possible murder to take the humdrum out of your daily commute.” —Cosmopolitan   “Perfectly paced, from its arresting beginning to its twist ending; it’s not an easy book to put down . . . excellent . . . gripping.” —NPR   “Compulsive reading.”—Marie Claire   “[A] psychologically astute debut. . . . The surprise-packed narratives hurtle toward a stunning climax, horrifying as a train wreck and just as riveting.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review   “[The Girl on the Train] pulls off a thriller’s toughest trick: carefully assembling everything we think we know, until it reveals the one thing we didn’t see coming.”  ―Entertainment Weekly   “Gone Girl fans will devour this psychological thriller. . . . Hawkins’s debut ends with a twist that no one—least of all its victims—could have seen coming.” ―People   “A natural fit for fans of Gone Girl-style unreliable narrators and twisty, fast-moving plots, The Girl on the Train will have you racing through the pages.” —Oprah.com   “The Girl on the Train marries movie noir with novelistic trickery . . . hang on tight. You’ll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.” —USA Today   “Given the number of titles that are declared to be ‘the next’ of a bestseller . . . book fans have every right to be wary. But Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train just might have earned the title of ‘the next Gone Girl.’” —Christian Science Monitor   “[A] chilling, assured debut, in which the line between truth and lie constantly shifts like the rocking of a train. . . . Even the most astute readers will be in for a shock as Hawkins slowly unspools the facts, exposing the harsh realities of love and obsession’s inescapable links to violence.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review   “Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages.” ―The Boston Globe    “Compulsively readable. . . . It actually hurt to put it down.” ―JOY FIELDING, New York Times–bestselling author of Now You See Her   “The pace and tension of the plot never jump the track. This novel will leave you as breathless as a ride on the new, high-speed commuter train in London.” ―ROBERTA RICH, author of the #1 national bestseller The Midwife of Venice   “Gripping, enthralling—a top notch thriller and a compulsive read.” ―S.J. WATSON, New York Times–bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep   “The Girl on the Train is so thrilling and tense and wildly unpredictable, it sucked up my entire afternoon. I simply could not put it down.” ―TESS GERRITSEN, New York Times–bestselling author   “What a group of characters, what a situation, what a book! It’s Alfred Hitchcock for a new generation and a new era.” ―TERRY HAYES, author of I Am Pilgrim   “Hawkins keeps the tension ratcheted high in this thoroughly engrossing tale of intersecting strangers and intimate betrayals. Kept me guessing until the very end.” ―LISA GARDNER, #1 New York Times–bestselling author   “Artfully crafted and utterly riveting. The Girl on the Train’s clever structure and expert pacing will keep you perched on the edge of your seat, but it's Hawkins’ deft, empathetic characterization that will leave you pondering this harrowing, thought-provoking story about the power of memory and the danger of envy.” ―KIMBERLY MCCREIGHT, New York Times–bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia “[A] psychologically astute debut. . . . The surprise-packed narratives hurtle toward a stunning climax, horrifying as a train wreck and just as riveting.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “Desperate to find lives more fulfilling than her own, a lonely London commuter imagines the story of a couple she’s only glimpsed through the train window in Hawkins’ chilling, assured debut, in which the line between truth and lie constantly shifts like the rocking of a train. . . . Even the most astute readers will be in for a shock as Hawkins slowly unspools the facts, exposing the harsh realities of love and obsession’s inescapable links to violence.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review'A thriller that grabs you from the first page and takes you on a high speed ride full of twists and turns. Gazing out of the train window will never be the same again!'  —Colette McBeth, author of Precious Thing and the forthcoming The Life I Left Behind“Like most Londoners, Paula Hawkins became very familiar with the daily commute. But unlike most passengers, she has turned her experiences of being on a packed train, gazing idly out of the window at the back of houses, into a terrific psychological thriller. . . . I can safely predict this impressive, accomplished thriller will be everywhere—look out for it on your daily commute.” —The Bookseller“The pace and tension of the plot never jump the track. This novel will leave you as breathless as a ride on the new, high-speed commuter train in London.” —Roberta Rich, author of the international bestseller THE MIDWIFE OF VENICE "What a group of characters, what a situation, what a book! It's Alfred Hitchcock for a new generation and a new era."—Terry Hayes“Gripping, enthralling--a top-notch thriller and a compulsive read.” —S. J. Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep “Clever and compelling. Hawkins keeps the tension ratcheted high in this thoroughly engrossing tale of intersecting strangers and intimate betrayals. Kept me guessing until the very end!’ —Lisa Gardner, author of Fear Nothing “This is unputdownable. . . . A fast, clever thriller with a flawed, entertaining heroine.” —Paula Daly, author of Keep Your Friends Close‘The Girl on the Train was so thrilling and tense and wildly unpredictable, it sucked up my entire afternoon. I simply could not put it down. Not to be missed!’ —Tess Gerritsen