What can explain the success of a #1 bestselling psychological thriller? In The Woman in Cabin 10, British author Ruth Ware demonstrates one likely explanation with consummate skill. She combines elements of a whodunnit, a locked-room mystery, and an unreliable narrator without falling victim to the sins of any one of the three formulas. The novel is a triumph of crime fiction.
Laura Blacklock, known as Lo, is a junior staff member at a high-end travel magazine in London. With her boss on maternity leave, Lo receives the coveted assignment to join an elite group of journalists and investors on the maiden voyage of an exclusive cruise to the fjords of Norway. The ship is a converted yacht with just ten cabins. Lo is assigned to #9. #10 is supposedly vacant. But late one night she hears a woman scream next door, followed by a loud splash. Rushing to look out at the water, Lo sees a woman’s body going under the waves. The novel concerns her frustrating attempts to persuade the crew and other passengers of what she has heard and seen. Two bits of tangible evidence disappear in short order. No one seems to believe her.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (2016) 384 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
Ruth Ware‘s previous adult novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood (2015), topped the New York Times and London Times bestseller lists, as has The Woman in Cabin 10. Her newest book, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, seems destined to join them. Before writing her first adult thriller, Ware wrote five young adult fantasy novels under a pen name.
Kirkus Reviews termed The Woman in Cabin 10 “a classic ‘paranoid woman’ story with a modern twist . . . [a] tense, claustrophobic mystery.” The New York Times commented on the similarities of Ware’s first two thrillers to those of Agatha Christie. “Both of Ware’s novels resemble classic locked-door mysteries: Her first takes place in a remote English country house and her latest on a cruise ship in the North Sea — a horrifying enough prospect for some of us even before the protagonist witnesses a murder and is accused of losing her mind.”
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