Published by Gallery/Scout Press on May 29, 2018
Genres: Psychological Thriller
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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.
I read Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood a couple of years ago and was underwhelmed. At the time, however, I wrote “I think she’s an author worth giving another chance, even if this book had problems.” I’d been hearing a lot of positive things and The Death of Mrs. Westaway seemed like one of the to-read books of this summer. I just don’t think I’m ever going to be a Ruth Ware fan.
Hal is a bit desperate. She owns money to a loan shark and is barely (not quite) making end meet as a tarot card reader. Out of the blue comes a letter about an inheritance. Hal knows it must be a mistake, but she’s out of options, so she takes the gamble and heads out to Trepassen House.
I liked Hal for the most part. She’s a survivor. And the atmosphere at Trepassen House was appropriately spooky and gothic. I guess, maybe Ware can be a bit heavy-handed and she’s going for the surprise twist, but it’s never quite as big a surprise as I’m expecting it to be. There’s too much repetition and telling us don’t forget it’s gloomy here and feels like secrets. Despite being billed as this generations Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware does not write simple mysteries. I categorized The Death of Mrs. Westaway as psychological suspense, and it’s fine. There are tons of secrets and a general feeling of menace, but it’s not outstanding, which is what I’m expecting based on the pre-reviews and advertising.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: