Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

cabin10About The Woman in Cabin 10

• Hardcover: 340 pages
• Published: July 2016 by Gallery/Scout Press
• Source: Purchased

Goodreads Description: 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.

My Thoughts

I’ll be the first to admit, I was slightly terrified when I picked this one up. I absolutely wanted to read it, but I’d seen it compared to Gone Girl, which I abhorred, and Girl on the Train, which I only mildly enjoyed. My complaints about both of those books were great ideas poorly executed, and I was concerned this would be similar. Nonetheless, when I saw a copy at my used bookstore, I grabbed it and ran. (Quite literally, I might add – I could see some girl eyeing it, trying to figure out if she could snatch it from me.)

The Woman in Cabin 10 tells us the story of what appears to be a murder on the maiden voyage of a luxury small-size cruiser. Nobody – passenger or staff – is missing. So was there really a murder? Only one person seems to think so. Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist who lucked out when her boss was too ill to take the assignment, is convinced of what she saw and determined to bring the killer to justice.

We get the story from Lo’s point of view, and for a good part of it, you don’t know whether to believe her and root for her, or to have her committed. She’s an unreliable narrator, but not entirely – there’s enough credibility to her story to keep you guessing. There are also plenty of reasons to doubt her. She’s fairly unlikeable, honestly – in the beginning, she drinks a lot, she’s rude, and she’s pretty self-pitying. But the way Ware writes her, you want to believe in her, even if it’s against your own judgement.

One thing I’ll say for Ware, she knows how to weave a story. She packs so much detail into so little space – one of those rare writers who somehow finds just the right words to convey the emotion of a scene. The opening chapter depicts Lo getting burgled, and reading it on the beach in Mexico, I was thankful I wasn’t starting the book right before bed.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling the story, but it’s important to mention that I had no idea where the story was going, even up until the very last page. The Woman in Cabin 10 is one of perhaps five or six books I can say that about – and I tried. At one point, I was convinced there were only three ways she could possibly wrap up the book, and I was wrong about all three.

The other thing I’ll say, is that it’s rare that every character – good or bad – gets what they deserve in a story, and even more rare, in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or cheapened. Ware does it, and ends the story in just the right manner. It’s an entirely satisfying conclusion to a mystery that seemed impossible.

I’ve seen comparisons to Agatha Christie’s work, and I don’t think that’s too far off here.  Well worth the read for mystery-thriller fans…but you may want to have a nightlight handy.

4 stars