The Death of Mrs. Westaway

by Ruth Ware

Death-of-Mrs-Westaway-book-coverThis book has all the delicious ingredients of a modern gothic mystery:  a large, rundown house on an isolated estate in Cornwall; a funeral for a bitter old woman who alienated her bickering children; a mean-spirited family retainer; and attic rooms with barred windows and doors that lock only from the outside.

The innocent set loose in this bubbling stew of family secrets and bad blood is Hal (born Harriet) Westaway.

Following in her late mother’s footsteps as a tarot card reader on a Brighton pier, Hal is in desperate financial straits. Until a letter from Mrs. Westaway’s solicitor arrives, Hal is unaware that she had a living grandmother, much less three uncles or any rights to a large estate.

Almost certain there’s been a mistake, Hal is desperate enough to see where this situation leads.

But the reading of the will leaves her in a much different situation than she anticipated. In her cold attic room, Hal isn’t comforted by her new circumstances.

Ware is a master at building suspense. Using excerpts from a diary written in the late fall of 1994, Ware reveals to the reader information that adds to the mystery and dread of Hal’s situation.

Hal’s character evolves as the story unfolds. Although there’s a great deal of money at stake in Mrs. Westaway’s will, this story is never about greed. The horrifying events that Hal slowly discovers cast every character in a different light than they first appeared.

This is a rewarding, entertaining read that will leave you hungry to check out Ware’s other books.

If your taste runs to gothic mysteries, you might also enjoy The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths.

About the Author: Ruth Ware (1977 – )

Ruth Ware is a best-selling British psychological crime thriller author. Her novels include In a Dark, Dark Wood (2015), The Woman in Cabin 10 (2016), and The Lying Game (2017).

She studied English at Manchester University, where she became fascinated with Old and Middle English texts.  She has written five young adult fantasy novels under the pen name Ruth Warburton: A Witch Alone (2013), A Witch in Winter (2013), A Witch in Love (2013), Witch Finder (2014), and Witch Hunt (2014).
Her taste for protagonists who are ordinary women in isolated, threatening environments has led to comparisons of her work to that of mystery writer Agatha Christie.
Three of her books have been optioned for filming: In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game.
She and her family live near Brighton in Southern England.


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