The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

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The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Karen Grace
Reviewed by Karen Grace
Summary: I absolutely loved this contemporary psychological thriller which had me completely gripped from start to finish. Clever writing, lots of twists and turns, family secrets and a compelling lead character made this book very hard to put down.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2018
Publisher: Harvill Secker
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1911215035

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I've only just got into psychological thrillers so, despite being an international best-seller, author Ruth Ware has passed me by until now. But, I can see why she's much acclaimed as I absolutely loved this and can't wait to get started on her previous three books now.

The main character is Hal Westaway, who might be small, skinny, pale and young but underneath she is tough, courageous and wiser than her 21 years, made so after the sudden death of her mother three years previously. Hal is permanently tired, cold and hungry working long hours as a tarot reader on Brighton pier trying to earn enough money to keep a roof over her head, and pay off an increasingly aggressive loan shark. So, when she gets an unexpected letter with news that her grandmother has died and she's been named as a beneficiary in the will, it seems like an answer to her prayers despite the fact that Hal knows her grandmother has been dead for over twenty years.

I'd defy anyone not to be captivated by the character that is Hal - this is her story, she dominates every single sentence on every single page, not to mention that she's also an independent, complex character with an obligatory tragic back story, in short author Ruth Ware has created all the elements needed for a completely compelling character. Perhaps even more so because the other characters, silent and malevolent housekeeper Mrs Warren and Westaway brothers' pompous Harding, saintly Abel and detached Ezra, are really not very likeable - initially at least.

Whilst this starts out as a story of fraud and deceit, it quickly becomes clear that there's so much more to the story with family secrets, murder mystery and dark drama keeping you in suspense right from the beginning until the end. Whilst it's an oversized, comparatively long book it didn't feel it and the fairly short chapters made it easy reading. What I loved was that it's so cleverly written, the modern-day story is interspersed with diary extracts from twenty years ago which works well to build the tension step-by-step and provide just enough clues to enable you to work out each piece mere moments before each twist is revealed. Even more cleverly, the actual finale was totally unexpected and the only bit I didn't see coming at all.

Unfortunately, my only criticism was in fact the end. As with many thrillers or murder mysteries I was disappointed by the somewhat dubious and weak motive behind it all. However, it was such a compulsive, thrilling reading that the end was almost irrelevant and the journey itself more than made up for any misgivings I had about the ending. When you're hoping for train delays just so that you can keep reading then you know that it's a good book.

Thank you to The BookBag and the publishers for introducing me another new author. Other psychological thrillers you might like are Can You Keep a Secret? by Karen Perry also based on family secrets and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn another thriller which intersperses present-day narrative with diary entries.

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Buy The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware at


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