I've been reading through Anita Shreve's books this year. I got started off on Testimony and the Pilot's Wife (both of which I loved). Along the way I've found that for me Shreve's books are hit and miss. Some are fabulous page turners and others get draggy. The Weight of Water fell into the draggy category for me. I seriously contemplated not finishing this book at all.
The story is a 2 in 1 book. There is a present day story of a photojournalist who is investigating an old murder that took place on the Isle of Shoals in the late 1800's. The story of the murder is the 2nd story. It was the murder story that kept me going. I really had no interest in what was happening in present day. I could see what was coming in that story and I didn't want to get to that part of it. From close to the first page I was thinking "oh please don't let..." happen. Knowing that it probably would.
Unfortunately, Shreve doesn't do a great job of flipping back and forth between stories. You will be reading right into one and the next paragraph will be the other story with no transition. It get disorienting.
The murder story itself is based on a true one. Though one man was convicted and hanged for it, historians continue to debate what really happened. This is Shreve's take on what could have happened. I would have much rather seen just this story and left the other out of it. The other just seemed pointless to me.
I found out more information about the murders from links on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smuttynose_Island