The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on May 29, 2018
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
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On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
This is my third attempt at reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. The first two times, I DNFed because the story just did not hold my interest. A coworker recently finished the audio version and liked it, so I decided to give the book one final try. I was able to finish but sadly, I didn’t enjoy the story, which I found too much of a slow burn for my liking. I also thought the twist was rather weak, which disappointed me because I love twisty plots.
Tarot card reader Hal is in a bind. Money is a constant struggle for her and she’s taken out an ill-advised loan from an unscrupulous source. That man is now ready to collect what he’s owed with interest, but Hal doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know what to do.
As Hal is grappling with her options, she receives a letter informing her that she’s named in the will of her recently departed grandmother, Hester Westaway. There’s just one problem: Hal’s grandparents are dead. For Hal, this is a clear case of mistaken identity—but her recent financial troubles and desperation get the better of her.
When Hal shows up at the funeral and subsequent reading of the will, she learns about a significant inheritance. She certainly needs the money, but she struggles with the guilt of committing fraud on an unsuspecting family. As Hal becomes more deeply embedded in her deception, she discovers that the Westaway family’s history is a minefield of its own dark secrets and lies.
This book has so many elements that normally appeal to me—family secrets! Creepy house! Murder and mayhem!—but unfortunately, the execution fell flat. I didn’t feel very strongly one way or the other about any of the characters, and personally I’d rather love or hate a character rather than feel indifferent. I also felt that way about the plot—it moves quite slowly, so if you’re a fan of a slow burn, then perhaps you’ll enjoy this book. However, combined with the fact that I didn’t care about any of the characters, the pacing felt plodding and drawn-out.
After loving In a Dark, Dark Wood but disliking both The Woman in Cabin 10 as well as The Death of Mrs. Westaway, I’m on the fence about Ruth Ware’s books. I’ll definitely continue to read them as new ones are published, but I hesitate to recommend any of them except for her debut novel. I have yet to read The Lying Game, so hopefully that one is a much better read.
Rating: 2 stars