The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on April 30, 2019 (first published May 29, 2018)
Genre(s): fiction, mystery
Format & Length: paperback, 368
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel. On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person–but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it. Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
I’ve read and enjoyed a few books by Ruth Ware but The Death of Mrs. Westaway is my favorite to date.
This follows a young woman named Hal as she receives a mysterious letter saying that her grandmother has died and she is an heir to the estate. She thinks it cannot actually be for her but really needs the money. When she goes to claim it, she discovers many secrets surrounding the estate and its family and wonders if it’s really worth it.
A mystery with a gothic vibe, The Death of Mrs. Westaway sets an atmosphere early on that permeates the story. The cold, damp darkness jumped off the page so strongly I could feel it, even on a warm spring day. Between the incredible atmosphere and writing strongly reminiscent of Agatha Christie, this is a modern day story that reads like an old school mystery.
Several interesting themes are explored in this book. It asks questions of morality, explores family ties, and delves into the difference between who someone is at their core versus the image they present to the world. There is also a strong element of tarot; Hal works as a tarot reader but has a unique perspective on the cards, and their symbolism makes its way into the story in a variety of ways.
“Never believe it, Hal. Never believe your own lies.”
In the end, The Death of Mrs. Westaway was a deliciously immersive reading experience. Ware’s writing continues to work for me and I will keep picking up whatever she puts out.