Monday, June 18, 2018

Eureka! The Woman in Cabin 10

If you've been following my blog lately, you will have heard me say more than one time that I am on the hunt for great contemporary mystery writers. Lots of recent attempts have fallen far short of that mark, but Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10 exceeded my wary expectations.

I normally stay away from books getting a lot of hype-most of the time, I find that kind of praise to be misplaced. But I couldn't deny that my interest was piqued by the premise of a murder onboard a ship. I have an affinity for the ship in particular as a breeding ground for strange things in fiction - the limited quarters allows for tantalizing wrinkles in the story, like the one here, in which the journalist Lo Blacklock believes she has witnessed a murder, except for the fact that everyone aboard the ship seems to be accounted for.

In this case, the accolades Ware has received as the next Agatha Christie are not an exaggeration. The tight ensemble cast were all intriguing in their own ways, and their suspicious behaviors were so cleverly written that I could not easily suss out the resolution. I was drawn in by the story's complexity and all the possible trajectories, and that was rewarding - if I'd been able to figure it all out on my own, I might have been disappointed by that.

Something I haven't seen as often, in this genre at least, was the idea of the unreliable narrator. The fact that Lo was drinking heavily the night before she witnesses what she believes to have been a murder was to me a master stroke, and added yet another set of possibilities for the story that took the plot in some unexpected directions.

Perhaps the one downside to this story was its ending - the resolution of the mystery hewed slightly more closely to tropish expectations than I anticipated, given the freshness of the rest of the story, and without giving anything away, there is a tonal shift towards the end of the plot that, while interesting, didn't seem to match what I'd been reading up to that point, and it left me wondering if maybe some other possibility might have been more satisfying.

In any event, I could not put this book down, and that was a great feeling after a long slog of mediocre-at-best works. The next Ware book, The Lying Game, deals with another favorite setting of mine: the boarding school. I'm practically salivating.

K. Rating: 5/5

Related image
*sigh* If not for the fact that I'd get so dizzy I'd likely tip overboard,
travelling like this might be pretty cool

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