You are on the maiden voyage of a miniature luxury cruise ship with only ten other passengers and a dozen or so crew members when late one evening you hear a splash and witness what you believe is a drowning body in the sea below. What’s worse is that the cabin next door where you had previously met a beautiful young woman is now totally devoid of any occupancy. Yet when you give a cry for help, nobody takes you seriously. You’re just a paranoid guest doped up on pills and booze whose imagination has run away with her.
This is the premise of The Woman In Cabin Ten by Ruth Ware in what has been labeled a psychological thriller. Laura Blacklock is definitely at a crossroads in her life, needing to decide whether to take her relationship with boyfriend Judah to the next level as well as find a way to advance her career as a features writer for Velocity, a travel magazine. When her boss Rowan has to relinquish her spot on the Aurora, owned by the prestigious couple Lord Richard Bullmer and his heiress wife Anne, Lo sees this as an opportunity to prove herself with the added bonus of a chance to temporarily replace the editor when she goes on maternity leave. All Lo has the do is write a positive article about the voyage (to encourage potential advertising in their publication) plus a few human interest stories about the other passengers which include a photographer, a food critic, a travel enthusiast, some fellow journalists, including one who happens to be an exboyfriend, a couple of financiers, and a fashion model, as well as the host and hostess promoting their new investment – a high end cruise for hire. Yet on their way from London through the North Sea to Norway to catch a glimpse of the wondrous Aurora Borealis, Lo, suffering from lack of sleep due to some tragic personal events on the mainland, finds herself unable to concentrate on the task at hand, especially after witnessing what by all appearances looks to be a murder, but the louder she cries the less she seems to be heard. As details about her background come to light, even the reader begins to question her sanity.
The twists and turns of the plot are not easily foreseen and the reader is entertained right up to the last paragraph. While there were a few sections which were a bit confusing, they did not distract from the overall effect. I did question the capability of Lo as a journalist since she wasn’t very good at schmoozing with her fellow passengers, but this could perhaps explain her lack of advancement in the field. Ware cleverly uses a touch of modern technology to advance the plot in this quick read which is guaranteed to keep your attention throughout.
Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley and Gallery/Scout Press for providing an ARC in exchange for a honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.