It’s finally October, which means that all month I’m going to focus on the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year! The first on my list is “The Woman In Cabin Ten” by Ruth Ware. This story is full of suspense and mystery, and the twist at the end was perfectly executed (don’t worry, no spoilers down below).
Lo Blacklock is a journalist for a travel magazine. After years of small assignments, she is finally getting the project of her dreams – a stay on a luxury cruise to Norway. It’s exactly what she needs after a break into her apartment that leaves her shaken up. There are only a handful of people on the boat, all journalists, photographers or high society people. Some of these people Lo knows, others she loathes and some she’s never seen before in her life. One such person is her cabin neighbor, a young woman in cabin 10 who seems to have made herself comfortable in the room. Clothes are thrown about, makeup is everywhere, the decor is a mess and when Lo asks for some mascara the girl quickly hands it to her and shuts the door. That night, after Lo has a handful of drinks, she hears muffling and a big splash right outside her window. Someone has been thrown overboard. When she checks on her neighbor, the girl is gone and the room looks like it’s never been touched.
At the end of most chapters, we see emails and forums talking about how Lo has disappeared. This first starts off with texts from her boyfriend, growing increasingly frantic as he doesn’t hear from her. Then the news reports that there was a body found in the water and online true-crime forums where strangers talk about what could have happened to Lo. This really drives the story forward because the entire time the reader is left wondering, “What happened to Lo? How did she disappear? Did she find the killer? Was she empty-handed? Is she dead or is this misdirection?”
Lo has little evidence that this girl even existed, only a bottle of mascara (which has gone missing), a photo on someone’s camera (which was dropped in the hot tub) and her own memories, which she, and everyone else on the ship, are starting to trust less and less every day. She wants to save this girl but she also wonders if the girl ever existed in the first place. Everyone on the boat is accounted for and no one seems worried, but someone must know something. Her sporadic use of anti-depressants and drinking habits, coupled with the trauma of her recent break-in, certainly support the conclusion that she was hearing things.
The reader was right there with Lo, trying to figure out what happened to this girl and if she existed at all, and then we are taken out of her perspective through news reports, texts and forums, giving an outsider view of what could be happening on the ship. I believe Ware did a great job of engaging her audience and building suspense by dropping little hints and clues everywhere, making almost everyone a suspect. Some parts, however, were rather slow and didn’t add much to the story itself, but you can’t expect all thrillers to be fast-paced and exciting at every page. While I saw it as boring, others may see these sections as a needed breather to process all the clues.
People who loved “The Girl on the Train” will like this book, as well as those who love a good mystery, some suspense and a little surprise.