Author: Ruth Ware
Format: Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC), 344 pages
Publisher: Scout Press, imprint of Simon & Schuster Canada
Pub Date: January 3, 2017
Summary from Publisher:
From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.
- From Goodreads
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware begins the novel by setting the rest of its foreboding tone with a breaking and entering of the main character’s apartment. This triggers Laura (Lo) Blackwood’s anxiety and almost prevents her from taking a luxury cruise for which she is assigned to cover a story for the travel magazine she works for.
Because the genre of the book is a mystery, it’s expected that the novel is not character-driven, but rather rests its ambition in its deviating plot.
The main character, Laura Blackwood, who prefers to be called Lo, seems to be a highly agitated and insecure individual whose coping mechanism for anxiety and claustrophobia is to drink liquor, distance herself from the commitment of a serious relationship, and to continually second-guess the events that surround her.
While her tenacity in attempting to solve the murder mystery herself is commendable, her constant, internal dialogue read particularly paranoid and narcissistic.
A number of secondary characters, a few of the guests on the luxury cruise, are used to compel the mystery of the book, emphasizing the whodunit narrative, which is typical in the mystery genre.
The premise of the story is the unexpected sighting of what the main character believes to be a murder of a woman who resides in Cabin 10, hence the title of the novel.
But, with a history of anxiety, a prescription of antidepressants, and an alcohol binge that lasts into the late night, Lo Blackwood, while certain of what she heard and saw, is personally scrutinized and her reputation put into question until she, herself, is almost driven to obsession in trying to discover the culprit of the crime she adamantly believes she witnessed.
While the narrative itself wasn’t overwhelmingly well-written, and the characters lightly superficial, the work does take a number of turns, leading its readers to consider possible scenarios in the main character’s goal to uncover the criminal behind the alleged murder, which, sends a few welcome surprises in the plot.
And while the pacing is quick enough to keep readers interested if not only to come to the book’s conclusion in the hopes of discovering the truth of the crime alleged in the novel, the conclusion of the novel seemed far-fetched.
Because the narrative wasn’t moving in a way to propel me to the “edge of my seat” as some successful mystery novels are meant to do to keep readers fully engaged in the mystery of the detective-style story, along with the lack of depth in characters who left me indifferent to their susceptibility to suspicion or blame, even danger, as well as the unlikely turn of events for the main character at the end of the novel, I am regrettably left to give The Woman in Cabin 10, a disappointingly 2.5 stars, overall.
But, if you’re an enthusiast of the mystery genre, you’re welcome to take a look at the book yourself. If you enjoy light reading, don’t require character depth, or a gripping plot, and don’t mind unrealistic and potentially exaggerated outcomes—or plan on attending a holiday cruise anytime soon—this could very well be an acceptable book choice.
For those that have already read the novel, the lesson it taught me in reading it: don’t forget to pack your own mascara when travelling.
Characters: 2 stars
Plot: 3 stars
Language/Narrative: 2.5 stars
Dialogue: 2.5 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Cover Design: 3.5 stars
A special thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy of The Woman in Cabin 10, in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Ruth Ware grew up in Lewes, in Sussex and studied at Manchester University, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer.
Her début thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood and the follow-up The Woman in Cabin 10 were both Sunday Times top ten bestsellers in the UK, and New York Times top ten bestsellers in the US. She is currently working hard on book three.
What do you love about the mystery genre?
What is your favourite mystery novel?