The Death of Mrs. Westaway
by Ruth Ware
Publication Date : May 29, 2018
Pages : 368
Synopsis from Publisher:
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.
My love of crime fiction and my inspiration for starting Murder and Moore is linked to my eternal admiration of Daphne du Maurier. Du Maurier is the author of what I consider to be best psychological thriller of all time, Rebecca. So it is not shocking that I am drawn to books which feature spooky houses and unassuming lead characters.
Meet Hal, a down on her luck tarot card reader living in Brighton England. At twenty-one, Hal is all alone in the world living hand to mouth. When she receives a letter from a lawyer stating she is a potential beneficiary to a large estate, Hal knows a mistake has been made. As her financial situation becomes more dire, she knows a potential inheritance may be her only way out of trouble. Upon her arrival at the estate Hal begins to feel ill at ease and fears she may have placed herself in a far more desperate and dangerous situation.
Hal Westaway is a complicated and intriguing main character. Although she is struggling to survive she also has an extremely high sense of morality. Most would assume that someone in such a desperate situation would be capable of anything. This is not true of Hal. When she has the opportunity to do the right thing she does it and feels conflicted when she is dishonest or misleading. She is also clever and intuitive. Hal has turned the isolation she experienced in her youth to her advantage. Hal’s ability to read people and situations allows her to not only make a living as a tarot card reader but it also enables her to see what people are trying to hide from her and possibly themselves. Hal could use this ability to exploit and hurt the people she encounters. Instead Hal tries to give people closure and help them heal from tragedies. Ware has created a character who is down and out but also has strong sense of right and wrong, which readers will find endearing.
Although Hal is the main character of The Death of Mrs. Westaway, the house Hal will potentially inherit, Trapassen is for sure a supporting lead character. Ware's descriptions of the house are vivid, creepy, and cast the house into a starring role right along side Hal.“It had the sense of a house where people had suffered in silence, where meals had been eaten in tension and fear, where secrets had been concealed, and where unhappiness had reigned more often than contentment.” While the descriptions of the house’s physical appearance are chilling, I find this statement even more spine-tingling. This statement describes how the house makes those who enter feel, which adds more intrigue and mystique to Trapassen.
When Hal becomes of aware of her potential inheritance of Trapassen, she imagines rolling acres, lush greens, and beautiful gardens. This is what I imagined as well. However when she arrives she discovers a damaged, neglected, and nearly dilapidated house. Once I discovered the condition of Trapassen, the story become even more compelling. All my assumptions were completely dispelled and I could not put the book down.
Ware’s ability is combine classic crime fiction with current elements never grows old. As with Ware’s previous books, In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, The Death of Mrs. Westaway is not filled with violence, gore, or action but rather a quiet menace that grows with each turn of a page until the reader is up way past their bed time (I speak from personal experience) unable to stop reading.
Murder and Moore Rating :
5 out of 5 Stars