The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

★★★☆☆

I hadn’t heard great things about this novel, but when I picked it up in the used bookstore, the first page or two read well. Lo (Laura) wakes up to a burglar in her house, and she fights him off (basically) and she goes to the police. The police say that statistically, most burglars will break into your place more than once.

Okay!

So I’m on my toes waiting for this bad guy to come back, but Lo goes on a work cruise and the bad guy isn’t waiting for her there, ready to tie the story together, so I’m already wondering where this story is going.

But she does sort of witness a murder on the cruise, and because she’s still freaked out by the burglary, nobody believes her. That’s all the burglary was there for: credibility reduction.

What I did like about this book was the author’s use of description: the way she described the burglar at the beginning by saying (paraphrased) “that’s how I described him to the police” (which let us know not only what she saw, but provided foreshadowing). And when she got to the cruise and they’re assigning her to her cabin — you think, “she’ll be in cabin 10, surely” but no, she’s not. And you look at the book title at the top of the page, and it makes you a little nervous. Like … who’s in cabin 10 and what’s her deal?

I also liked the author’s placement of emails — but it would have been more effective if she’d labeled the chapters with the date, because I didn’t realize at first that the emails were from a few days in the future.

What I didn’t like started pretty soon after Lo wakes up hearing a murder going on. I mean, of course that’s what she’s hearing. I didn’t like Lo. She’s mean to just about everyone (including her boyfriend, who she leaves on very uncertain terms, but claims to love). Maybe she doesn’t have the built-in niceties I’ve noticed in almost everyone I encounter — you know, that voice inside that reminds you you’re in polite company and to maybe temper your response before you spit it at someone. If I’d been on the cruise with her and she behaved the way she did, I wouldn’t have believed her either and I would have avoided her. I wished I could, but because it was a book, I was tethered to this woman to the bitter end. (That’s not a spoiler, I mean the end of the book.)

As a person who’s dealt with anxiety and some PTSD, I know it can make you a little tweaked sometimes, so I tried to be patient with her. She’s just flying off the handle because she’s been hurt in the past and this is how she deals. Fine. But the plot just drags for a little while. Nobody believes her for about a fourth of the book, and that’s really all that happens. She doesn’t do cruise activities or work stuff (even though she’s there for work), and the other characters are basically cardboard cutouts. And then! It looks like the climax starts about a third from the end, and I’m fanning the remaining pages thinking what could possibly take so long?

But it did take so long. It wasn’t nail-biting, I stopped caring what was going to happen. For me, this book was good enough to finish, but it’ll go back to the used bookstore.


Dark Museum is now available on Amazon

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