Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10 has been called a psychological thriller and compared to Agatha Christie. Really? I'm missing something in Agatha Christie, then. I've read a number of Christie's mysteries, and never felt they were "psychological thrillers". I'll be interested to learn what other readers think. I could certainly be wrong.

Yes, The Woman in Cabin 10 takes place in a closed environment as some of Christie's books do. Lo (Laura) Blacklock is a journalist for a travel magazine, looking forward to a cruise on the luxury ship Aurora Borealis. But, just before she's to leave, her apartment is broken into while she's in bed, and, after seeing the burglar, she's terrified. She doesn't sleep for several days. She's drinking too much so she can pass out because she can't sleep. She has a fight with her partner, Judah. So, she's not in the best shape when she gets on the ship.

The Aurora Borealis is a small ship with ten cabins. The maximum number of passengers will be twenty people treated to wonderful food and pampering. Lo is too exhausted and drinking too much to appreciate it. But, she's still aware enough to know she heard a scream and the sound of a body going overboard from cabin 10. The problem? There's no guest in cabin 10, and no one is missing on the ship. Why should anyone believe a woman who has been observed to be drunk and sick?

There are other reasons to doubt Lo's story, but I'm not going to spoil the book. Is she a reliable narrator? Can the reader believe what Lo believes? The book is a page-turner. I had to keep reading to find out what really happened, and what was the truth. The story became even more fascinating with the glimpses of stories and questions from the outside world. There are problems with wifi and cell phone communication, and Judah doesn't know if Lo is ignoring him because of their fight. This isn't usually my kind of book, but I kept reading to learn the truth.

An unreliable narrator. A cruise ship on its way in international waters. Is there a missing woman? Can the reader trust Lo? The Woman in Cabin 10 is a book to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Ruth Ware's website is

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. Scout Press. 2016. ISBN 9781501132933 (hardcover), 352p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I picked up my copy at a conference.


Deb said...

Other than ENDLESS NIGHT (the closest thing to a noir-esque thriller Christie ever wrote), I don't think anyone could really make a case for Agatha Christie being a writer of psychological thrillers. It's almost as if whoever wrote the blurb had never read Christie but was aware of her as a "big name" and a good one to compare an up-and-coming writer to.

In my comment yesterday, I gave a few reasons why I felt Ware's debut novel (IN A DARK, DARK WOOD) would have benefitted from some additional editing, one of the reasons was there was just too much "busyness" involving cell phones and texting (it got exhausting after a while, trying to keep track of who used whose phone to text which person, really kinda ham-handed) and, apparently, cell phones and sketchy cell-phone service plays a role in her new book too. Oh dear! And I'm not a big fan of a theme I see in thrillers lately of having the protagonist get so drunk she's not sure what she saw (I'm looking at you, GIRL ON A TRAIN). I wish there were more inventive ways of showing someone doubting their memories. That being said, I've read some good reviews for CABIN 10 and Iiked the way Ware set up the atmosphere in her first book, so I'll probably give this one a try.

Lesa said...

I'm not a big fan of the so-called "domestic thrillers", Deb. And, yes, not having cell phone service does play a part in this one. I'm so glad to read your initial comment about Agatha Christie, though, so I don't feel as if I was off in saying, "Agatha Christie?". I love your comments, and that direct address to GIRL ON A TRAIN. Thanks, Deb!

avantgardian said...

The plot is good; the writing is tediously bad, like the "drunken" heroine. An annoying dame you dont wanna meet.

Nann said...

I just finished WIC10 and logged on to let you know. It was hard to put down! I felt flung about as the character went from one scary episode to another and I had to go back and re-read chunks of pages to figure out what I might have missed. Was the break-in at the beginning only to set the scene for her paranoia? (I kept waiting to see if there was a connection between that and subsequent events.) She was supposed to be writing a magazine story about the cruise, but never mentioned actually writing anything. And what was the bad guy's motive? Lots of questions, not enough resolution.

Lesa said...

Interesting to see the comments. Thank you! That's why I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. As Nann said, lots of questions, not enough resolution. That's a good summary right there, Nann!