Sophie and I are both big Ruth Ware fans. Luckily, when the post arrived, this one was addressed to me, much to Sophie’s disappointment. (Don’t worry, I’ve passed it onto her).
It’s another tense, suspenseful thriller with a great air of Agatha Christie and also a little The Girl on The Train – an unreliable narrator, the drink, the judgement and assumption of instability which comes with that. It also really made me want to take a cruise around the fjords – for the beauty, not for the spooky murder.
“This was meant to be the perfect trip.
The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.
A chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.
Except things don’t go as planned.
Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.
Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness…”
For me, this was a book of two halves. The first, brilliant, the second a little rushed and not quite as brilliant. The pace of the book is insane, you’re thrown straight into the action from page one and you’re met by the narrator of Lou, a slightly grumpy, funny and unreliable. The story is structured much like a classic thriller novel: a rocky relationship, a traumatic experience making Lou want to get away and a chance to do so, whilst getting ahead in her career. I loved the first night on the boat when Lou is introduced to each character, it felt so authentically Agatha Christie as she met each aristocrat, each passenger who you are immediately trying to work out.
We are firmly on Lou’s side in her argument of seeing the mysterious woman in cabin 10. I never doubted her sanity for a second, or blamed it on the concoction of drugs and alcohol as those around her did. For we see the girl and hear the screams just as she does and we’re convinced. But the confusion over where this mysterious girl has gone, whether she has died or is on board is so brilliantly handled – we are drawn in, whisking through the pages as the tension builds and the suspects increase. It’s a book that feels timeless, that gets straight to the action and exudes the feel of a classic ‘whodunnit’. I loved the mystery and the build to the realisation of the truth. There’s a pressing suspense throughout as you follow Lou as a detective around the ship and her slight frantic, distressed way of investigating makes her a brilliant narrator. We feel her frustration but it’s easy to see why those around her might not believe it. Unless they’re behind it all along…
But for me, after that, everything just happened in a whirlwind. It was incredibly rushed, moments felt a little unrealistic and I was slightly left feeling disappointed by an outcome which felt less Agatha Christie and more James Bond. Let me say that I still really enjoyed the second half, I just felt that the first built it up so much that I was expecting a lot, I wanted that Christie feel to carry through. I wanted to see Richard more, I wanted a more realistic ending. And I’m also very picky about thrillers, I say with so many books that the ending was a little disappointing when really, I’m not sure how an ending can keep being different to other thrillers whilst staying credible. I just don’t feel like the tone of the two halves of this book matched, but either on its own worked really well. I feel incredibly harsh saying so because I love the way Ruth writes and I think it’s a fantastic book, one I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy without my overly-critical and hard-to-please mind.
The Woman in Cabin 10 is out on 30th June.