After my disappointment last week reading The Girl on the Train (see here), I persevered to seek out a psychological thriller that I did like – and cor blimey – two came along at once, here’s my review of the first …
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware’s second novel takes the classic trope of the locked room novel as exemplified by Agatha Christie et al and gives it a good shake-up for the 21st Century.
The action takes place in a luxury cruise yacht with ten cabin suites on its first voyage – a press launch trip up the Norwegian coast to see the Northern Lights – the ship is called the Aurora Borealis. The passengers are an interesting mix. We have journalists from posh travel magazines, a renowned photographer, potential clients and investors, The trip is hosted by the yacht’s owner himself, multi-millionaire businessman Richard Bullmer and the crew outnumber the passengers.
For Laura ‘Lo’ Blacklock, this could be the trip that makes her journalistic career at Velocity magazine, where she needs to make an impression. But she nearly doesn’t make it to the gangway. A day or so before, her flat is broken into while she is sleeping. She wakes to be confronted by a man in a hood and mask who locks her into her bedroom before burgling the flat. Boyfriend Jude manages to complicate her now paranoid and medicated mind further by suggesting she move in with him. They part on poor terms leaving for their respective business trips.
Lo reaches the ship and is assigned to cabin 9 – the mini-suites are almost as large as her flat. Finding she has no mascara, she knocks on the door of cabin 10 and borrows some from the surprised occupant. Later that night she hears noises, going to her balcony, she thinks she sees a body sinking into the waves, thrown from next door. She calls the ship’s security manager to find cabin 10 was unassigned and that there’s no-one missing from the boat. No-one will believe her, there’s no girl matching the one she saw in cabin 10 on the boat. It must be a figment of her imagination, after all, she’s been through a lot recently. Not satisfied, Lo won’t take no for an answer. She is determined to prove her sanity. However, she’ll have to tread carefully – someone on board the boat is a murderer – and she’s the only witness.
Fabulously twisty and suspenseful, I raced through this novel. Being set aboard ship out at sea, the claustrophobia is palpable, especially in the ship’s spa which is below the waterline – this cruise is just dripping with luxury! Although there are obvious suspects, there are also red herrings, and you have to wonder how reliable Lo is as a narrator. Consequently, I didn’t have a clue about how or whodunnit, being constantly surprised as events pan out.
I certainly want to read Ruth Ware’s debut, In a dark, dark place now. Also, the publisher’s have done a nice job on the covers beneath the dustjacket – with watery trails of air bubbles rising from the sea – spooky! (9/10)
P.S. As for the second one, review of Beside Myself by Ann Morgan will come soon…
* * * * *
Source: Publisher – Thank you.
Ruth Ware, The Woman in Cabin 10 (Harvill Secker, Jun 2016) hardback, 352 pages. (paperback out in Jan).