Book review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Monday, July 4, 2016 Permalink

I’d had this book on my iPad to read for a long time before its publication date. I’d not heard of author Ruth Ware before, but many tell me they’ve read her previous book – In a Dark, Dark Wood – and enjoyed it a lot.

I liked The Woman in Cabin 10. It offered up a flawed lead character who may, or may not, be trustworthy as a narrator and a whodunnit of sorts.

Book review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth WareThe Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware
Published by Harvill Secker
on June 30th 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1846558905, 9781846558900
Pages: 352

This was meant to be the perfect trip.

The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.
A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.

Except things don’t go as planned.

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.

Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that her sleep problems might be driving her mad or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness...

Just days prior to going on the cruise Lo’s apartment is burglarised. She’s asleep at the time but hears the thief and gets up to investigate. She’s injured in the scuffle and still struggling with her confidence when she’s due to go on the press junket.

Lo’s a heavier-than-usual drinker and has moved on from the drinks-at-night, to the drinks-throughout-the-day to keep the shakes at bay. And though she knows she shouldn’t, she hits the booze hard on her first night aboard ship. So when she reports that someone’s gone overboard, her claims are essentially dismissed.

Of course her determined investigations make her suspicious of the small group onboard and eventually get her into trouble.

There are a few subplots and red herrings thrown into the mix by Ware. There are only 10 cabins on the luxury cruise ship so possible suspects are limited. But with everyone accounted for, readers are forced to wonder how reliable Lo really is.

For some reason this novel felt like it could have been written by Agatha Christie*. Perhaps it was the over-the-top luxury of the boat and the eclectic group of passengers: the owner and his wife, their friends, a photographer, a Bear Grylls type character, another journalist and Lo.

Interestingly the person who WAS to stay in number 10 was burgled and had his passport stolen just before the voyage… it seemed too coincidental, so I suspected Lo’s burglary was somehow related.

I don’t mind my characters flawed but have to admit I really didn’t identify as much as I would have liked with Lo. And as we didn’t really get to know any of the other characters, it fell a little short for me in that respect, as I really wasn’t that invested.

Ware jumps about in time a little and we’re privy to announcements and media reports of Lo’s disappearance while the plot is still unfolding. It’s a nice touch and adds to the suspense.

It is a little hard to solve this one – as readers don’t really have access to all of the detail – but Ware has thrown a few final twists in to keep us guessing.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was published by Harvill Secker (Random House UK, Vintage Publishing) and is now available.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

* Of course, it was very reminiscent of Rear Window, so is probably Hitchcock-esque as well! 😉

  • Jess
    July 4, 2016

    Sounds like a good whodunit!

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2016

      Yes Jess, with a nice twist or two near the end.

  • Stormi D Johnson
    July 4, 2016

    I have been wanting to read this one, sounds interesting. 🙂

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    July 4, 2016

    This is on my TBR because I really loved her first book In a Dark Dark Wood. This one doesn’t sound quite as good as there seems to be more coincidences and the like but it still sounds like an entertaining read.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2016

      I didn’t say it in the review, but I really did wait for Lo’s burglary to have some relevance to the plot. I guess it made her on edge, which was perhaps the point. I’d like to read Dark Dark Wood as I suspect it might be a little better.

  • Tea Time with Marce
    July 4, 2016

    I considered requesting this one yesterday. It reminded you of Agatha Christie what an amazing honour. I think I want to try In a Dark Dark Wood.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2016

      I’d like to read In a Dark Dark Wood as well Marce. I hadn’t heard of it before but everyone’s been commenting on it and NG mentions it in the blurb!

  • Rita @ View From My Books
    July 5, 2016

    It still sounds good to me, despite the coincidences, and the lack of connection to the MC. I loved Rear Window (the original one) and And Then There Were None, so if the plot resembles those, it can’t be too bad 🙂 Thanks for your honest opinion.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2016

      Oh definitely Rita. It’s a good read. A solid mystery – if that makes sense. 3-star books for me are those I devour and used to borrow from the library and tear through in a night. I think, had a connected more with Lo and some of the other characters it would have been an excellent read.

  • karen blue
    July 5, 2016

    I got this book for review as well. I recently read In a Dark, Dark Wood and I found it to have some flaws but be overall enjoyable. Sorry to hear you didn’t love this, I have read nothing but glowing reviews, so it is good to have a realistic review.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2016

      I’m actually also a pretty tough reviewer Karen! I think I’ve given half a dozen 5 star reviews EVER! Three stars and above from me is most definitely a recommended read! 😉

  • Greg
    July 10, 2016

    I’m kinda excited for this one but after your review I’ll keep my expectations in check a bit. I sometimes like unreliable narrators (depends on the book) and always a good twist, so I think this will be a good one for me. The alcoholic angle might be interesting too to make her even more unreliable I imagine… and the whole premise of being on the boat but no one believes her does appeal to me. 🙂

    • Debbish
      July 10, 2016

      I’ll be keen to see what you think Greg! I hope you enjoy it!

  • Carolyn fisher
    August 26, 2016

    I loved it and couldn’t put it down or get it out of my head! But what does the ending mean?????

    • Debbish
      August 27, 2016

      Yes Carolyn… I wasn’t sure if some of the gaps are on purposes so we were kept guessing, or if there were a couple of gaps in the plot.

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