The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Lately, I’ve been getting more and more into mystery books. After finishing Gone Girl recently, I’ve been on the hunt for another great thriller. The Woman in Cabin 10 had a fairly unique premise and I had seen it featured in the mystery section of seemingly every book store I went to, so I finally picked it up. While it falls short of the bar that Gone Girl sets, despite it’s flaws, it was an interesting and heart-pounding novel.

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

One of my issues with this book was how repetitive it got to be when it came to descriptions. Lo, understandably, develops a fear of small spaces and being on lower decks on the ship, but the way it was described was almost copy and paste each time. I understand that the setting was extremely limited, but I would have appreciated a bit more effort in the world building. The pacing for the first half of this book was a bit too slow for my tastes. It sets the stage for why Lo is in the head space that she’s in, but then it really takes its time getting to the meat of the story. Once Lo hears the commotion from the cabin next door and suspects someone went overboard, the book kicks into high gear and is a page turner. It almost has Murder on the Orient Express vibes but set on a cruise ship instead of a train.

Lo was one of the reasons I really liked this book. She was a fundamentally unlikable character at first, but as she pursued and investigated the mystery aboard the Aurora, she wormed her way into my heart. As she navigated the plot, I was never sure if she was being overly paranoid or if she was following her gut, which made reading from her perspective all the more fun. She was a little unstable, a bit unreliable, and a good person at heart. I’m also a big fan that this book didn’t heavily lean on her boyfriend back home and rather focused on Lo solving the mystery and coming to terms with her mental health situation. Additionally, the other passengers added complexity and confusion to the mystery that added credibility and depth to the whodunit vibe.

While this was far from a perfect book, having such a colorful narrator really helped carry the book forward when the setting felt repetitive and the pacing was a bit off. The plot and pacing of the second half of the book along with Lo as a narrator and the entertaining other passengers on the ship really saved this book. If you’re looking for a decent thriller, this might be the book for you. 4/5.

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16 Comments

  1. I liked this as well. I was a bit surprised by the reviews, both on Goodreads and in my book discussion group, that found Lo annoying because of her anxiety. That bothered me, since I too struggle with anxiety (especially social anxiety, which didn’t make me feel all that great to hear people drag her when I’m making such an effort to be social!). I don’t typically read mysteries or thrillers, so this was outside of my wheelhouse, but I enjoyed it and I’m glad you did as well.

  2. I didn’t love In a Dark Dark Wood but I really liked Ruth’s writing and I have two more of her novels, including this one so I’ll be giving her another try. I’m glad it turned out decent in the end.

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