“Yeah, so I read Ruth Ware’s new book.” Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

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Ruth Ware, the author of thrillers including In a Dark, Dark Wood and, the better known, The Woman in Cabin 10, is back with a thriller spanning several generations.  Harriet, or rather, Hal, is a young woman trying to keep a step ahead of violent loan sharks by reading Tarot cards on the pier.  She learned about the cards and how to read people from her mother, but her mother’s recent death in a car accident has left her about to lose the flat they shared and possibly much, much more if she can’t figure out how to pay off her growing debt. 

Fortune, however, shines on her.  She receives a letter letting her know she is in line for an inheritance due to the passing of her grandmother.  The only catch; Hal realizes that there has been a mistake. The woman who passed isn’t really her grandmother.  Hal, however, is desperate. She is adept at reading others and figuring out what they want to hear. These skills should serve her long enough to attend the reading of a will, collect whatever money is being doled out, pay off her debts, and then live without fear of death nor a too troubled conscience. She can play quiet and demure while meeting some new Uncles and their families.  She makes a living out of putting on an act.  But things are never that easy. 

This thriller follows two stories; Hal’s and her Mother’s.  There is hidden, forbidden love, the condescending attitudes of the wealthy, murder, betrayal and buried secrets.  It has all the ingredients of a good thriller. And I won’t go so far as to say that it isn’t good, but to be more accurate, I’d say it is a proficient thriller.  If you like her other books, you’ll like this one, though probably not quite as much.  The story takes a long time to set up; in contrast, the book itself feels rushed. The resolution is not satisfying.  Ware does a good job setting up false leads and red herrings, but the truth’s unraveling is muddled.  However, by this point, you don’t care enough to go back and try to think it all through to see if it really makes sense or reaches a little far. You are just glad it is done so you can tell people, “Yeah, I read Ruth Ware’s new book.” But you won’t have a clear idea what to say after that.