The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware
Publication date: 04 April 2019
Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
I find often thrillers really hit or miss for me — sometimes they’re the most amazing reading experience or they completely fall flat. I hadn’t ever picked up a Ruth Ware book before, so I didn’t have many expectations going in despite hearing great things about her writing. However, I am so pleased to say that I ended up loving The Death of Mrs Westaway and read it in nearly one sitting.
When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…
Like with all thriller reviews, I’ll keep this short because you should know as little as possible before going in. There is a lot to love about The Death of Mrs Westaway, and for me I think the main factor is the fact that it feels like a more small scale story than other thrillers I’ve read — I hope this will make sense. I’ve struggled with some books featuring female protagonists because of violence against them, threats of sexual assault, etc. and the way such things are handled. Harriet is not an unreliable narrator, currently an alcoholic, or a drug addict, all of which seem to be recurring themes in thrillers since books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train became popular. What I’m trying to get across is the fact that this book feels different from many other thrillers I’ve read. I really enjoyed the fact that the main tension of the story surrounds the fact that Harriet must make a choice — to commit a crime that could land her in prison or not. She’s an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, and time and time again proves she’s a good person.
Ware’s writing is wonderfully tense and well-paced — I blew through this book so quickly and couldn’t put it down. In fact, I nearly missed my bus stop because I was so engrossed in the book on my commute. I really loved the story, the twists and turns, and the way everything resolves in the end — it’s a very satisfying read. If you’re looking for an intriguing thriller for the fall and winter, I’d highly recommend picking up The Death of Mrs Westaway, particularly on a dark and chilly weekend. This was my introduction to Ruth Ware and I’ve already read another of her books — I plan to pick up the rest of them as well!
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Have you read The Death of Mrs Westaway? What about Ruth Ware’s other books? What did you think? Let me know!