Somethng In The Water
by Catherine Steadman


West Maui Book Club Discussion Questions

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Any page numbers refer to iPad edition.


Characters: Mark Roberts, Erin Locke, Phil & Duncan (cameramen), Holli Byford, Alexa Fuller, and Eddie Bishop (three prisoners), Fred Davey (film director), Richard (bank pal), the Sharpes, Paco, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Foster

1) Erin makes a statement early in the novel, and before her wedding, that “I honestly think I’m at that magical point in my life where all the plans I set in motion in my twenties are finally coming together, all in unison, as if somehow I’d deliberately orchestrated it that way, though I don’t remember consciously doing that.” By the end of the story, how true did this statement ring?

2) What were your thoughts of Eddie Bishop and his initial interactions with Erin versus his latter? What do you think really caused the change in him? Was it Erin helping him with his daughter or with Erin becoming more like him?

3) When Erin and Mark are admitted into the British Airways lounge, Erin finds it strange when “when you think you know what a good thing is and then you suddenly realize that there is a whole other level beyond what you knew even exited? Scary, in a way. How quickly what is good can become not good enough through comparison.” Discuss the many ways Erin’s life went from good to bad to something else entirely.

4) Have you ever noticed or heard before that the horizon is always approximately three miles away from you when viewed at sea level? (pg. 95) What other informational tidbits held relevance for you as you read? The three stages in documentary filmmaking? The meaning of Provenance as it relates to diamonds?

5) When Erin and Mark first come upon the site and collect the bag, they don’t give a full report on arrival at the resort. They simply turn it in, and when it’s returned to them, they later convince themselves instead that it was jetsam vs flotsam. Why do you think they didn’t report the original “find” to the front desk? Why did they think the dive guy was the only credible resource?

6) Did you find Erin and Mark credible characters who could hack into the resort’s client reservations list to remove themselves or do any of the covert things they did?

7) Once they’d removed themselves from the resort’s reservations list, how was it that the resort didn’t notice Erin and Mark missing from it? They’d certainly made themselves well known while there. Same for the killers of the on the couple, the Sharpes. Why kill them when most everyone there knew there’d been another couple in Erin and Mark? And, if it was in fact Paco, the watersports guy who’d misled the killers, what about the porter who took the bag from Erin and Mark?

8) “Mistakes come down to three things: (1) lack of time, (2) lack of initiative, (3) lack of care.” (pg. 323) In what ways did Erin and/or Mark make their mistakes?

9) At what point—if at all-- did you begin to suspect something other was happening or someone other than the suspected were involved? (For me, pg. 209)

10) Did you buy into the plotline, or did you begin to pick it apart? If so, where?

11) In the end, Erin saves herself, which is what she could have done on a number of occasions, including when she considered it when setting up the Swiss bank account.

12) The story ends with Erin not having yet delivered her baby but already making plans for her at around age seven. She also says she’ll do one more job for Eddie. Do you think we’ll see that future in a sequel?

From the Publisher: PenguinRandom House

1. The novel begins with the striking scene of Erin digging a grave, then flashes back in time to describe the events leading up to it. Is this an effective way to enter the story? Did the opening pages hook you? Why or why not?

2. Erin’s career as a documentary filmmaker puts her in touch with incarcerated people she may never have met otherwise, and her relationship with Eddie is especially complex. She never tells Mark about him and is drawn to him during her interviews. She befriends a known criminal. Why does Erin become so closely involved with him? How genuine are her connections with her other documentary subjects, and how do those relationships affect the events in the novel?

3. Throughout the novel, Erin makes questionable decisions in order to secure what she thinks is the best future for her and Mark. Did you sympathize with her or criticize her actions? Does she ever become suspicious or untrustworthy as a narrator?

4. Catherine Steadman is a professional actress and wrote parts of Something in the Water whilst on set. Can you identify ways in which her writing process may have influenced the tone and/or structure of the novel? What struck you about her writing style?

5. After their discovery on the scuba dive, how does Erin and Mark’s relationship change? Despite the secrets they’re hiding from each other, they do not struggle intimately. Do they truly love each other?

6. Money is a motivating factor in Erin and Mark’s decisions, and the idea of the fiscal divide between the extremely wealthy and the middle classes percolates through the novel. Are the characters in the novel motivated by greed? Or survival? Do financial issues have the power to tear people apart?

7. Erin references her family only briefly, focusing most of the narrative on Mark and her documentary subjects. Why do you think her family gets so little page time? Eddie’s daughter, Charlotte McInroy, tells Erin that she disconnected from her family and created a life "from scratch." Do these two women have similar stories? Does Erin make a life "from scratch"?

8. Erin is often very empathetic, and she doesn’t blame Mark for the consequences of their actions until she has no other choice. Does this reflect a broader tendency for partners to excuse their spouses’ behaviors or put them on a pedestal? Is that reaction even more common among women than men?

9. Erin learns a striking piece of news in the closing pages of the book. Will this affect her character for the better—or for the worse? Do you think Erin is capable of committing a crime herself in the future?

10. The novel ends with Erin thinking, "You can’t save everyone. Sometimes you just have to save yourself." What sacrifices does Erin have to make to save herself? Does she leave anyone behind? Would you have made the same choices?

(Questions issued by the publisher.)

WMBC Questions compiled by: Elaine Gallant
West Maui Book Club
Jan. 2022