What’s it about?
Lo Blackstock, a journalist, is on the trip of a lifetime on a luxury cruise in the North Sea. She sees- or thinks she sees- a woman murdered in the cabin next door. But when she raises the alarm, she finds that the woman never existed.
I absolutely ripped through this book. I inhaled it, devoured it, whatever other metaphors you fancy for reading quickly. But did I enjoy it? I’m not sure.
I can safely say I didn’t not enjoy it, but that feels like damning with faint praise. I found the narrator to be interesting, but not fully formed. In the opening of the book, we’re privy to a disturbing incident in her life, but it isn’t fully resolved. I think its purpose is to make her unreliable and unsteady, yet I found it did the opposite; I was more inclined to trust her later on because she’d been through this previous trauma. It felt a bit tacked on and formulaic, especially when taken with the other character revelations we’re treated to.
This brings me to my second point- The Girl on the Train. The quote on the cover says something like “Agatha Christie meets The Girl on the Train” so it was quite clear what the marketing department were pitching for. Unreliable narrator sees something awful, but no one believes her because she’s so unreliable. I think this novel suffers by comparison, to be truthful. GotT (abbreviations, ftw) was the first and is actually a pretty decent thriller, whereas this feels hurried and half-formed. In this book, I didn’t like the ending and the final twist was more sparkler than rocket. I don’t know if the author was aiming for GotT– I actually had more Murder on the Orient Express in mind when I was reading- but any transport related thriller coming after will immediately be lumped in with it, appropriate or not. Such is the way the bestseller lists work.
I haven’t read Ware’s other book, In a Dark, Dark Wood, but I think I would. I’m going through a thriller phase and it sounds like the type of thing that would tickle my fancy. Equally, I would read more books from her, but hope she takes a bit more time to think it through and smooth the plot a bit.
Would I recommend it?
It depends. If you’re looking for a beach read, or something light and quick, try this. If you’re looking for the next Val McDermid, this ain’t it.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is published Penguin, priced £7.99