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review 2018-06-18 14:31
Another good mystery by the author...hard to put down.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware, Author; Imogen Church, Narrator

A young woman named Harriet Westaway works on a pier in London, reading the Tarot cards to gullible people. She is 21 and lives alone. Three years ago, her mother died in a tragic accident, and she was forced to leave school and take up her mother’s place in the booth on the pier, reading the cards in order to support herself. Her bills soon piled up, forcing her to borrow money from an unscrupulous source. The interest fees were huge and as her balance grew, it became harder and harder to keep up with the payments. When the debt collector came to demand more money, he threatened her with bodily harm, and refused to renegotiate the terms of her loan. He left her in a state of terror. She had no idea how she would get the money to pay him.

Then, out of the blue, she found a letter she had misplaced and discovered that she had been named as a beneficiary in the will of someone who professed to be her grandmother. Hester Westaway, had died and named her specifically in the document. The lawyer confirmed this. Still, she knows that her real grandmother died years ago. Since they shared the same surname and her own mother had the same first name as Hester’s deceased/missing daughter, she decided to try and impersonate the heir. She knew, after carefully checking the documents that she had, that she was not the real granddaughter, but she was desperate for money. She traveled to the funeral of Mrs.Westaway, and then she went to a place called Trepasen House, the mansion where her supposed grandmother had lived. Although it had not been kept up in recent years, the size of the property and house were beyond her wildest dreams. Soon, however, it was destined to also turn into a nightmare.

At first, she discovered relatives that she never knew of, naturally, since she knew she was not the real Harriet Westaway. They were so welcoming and kind, that she was overwhelmed with the desire for a family. She hated being so alone in the world. With no knowledge of her father, and her mother gone, she felt totally adrift,  Soon, because of their gracious acceptance of her, she was consumed with guilt about her deception, as well as fear for her life from the debt collector.

When the lawyer revealed that she had inherited the lion’s share of the estate, the family was in shock. She fainted dead away and realized that she could no longer pull off this deception. She had only hoped for a small amount of money to repay her debts and move on with her life. Now, as the family overcame their shock and were still exceedingly kind to her, she believed that she could not go on with the charade. Still, her fear of the man who had threatened her, if she could not repay her debt, overwhelmed that shame and each time she hoped to confess, she weakened and continued the pretense.
As the situation grew more complicated, she discovered that her new “uncles” all had secrets. She wondered why the housekeeper was always angry, especially with her, and she began to feel threatened by her attitude toward her. She even began to wonder if someone wanted to harm her, but she could not fathom a reason for that.

Suddenly, she realized she that she did have some connection to this house and family, and she set out to discover the secrets of Trepasen House, and the Westaways. She needed to find out who she really was, who her father was, and why she was named in the will. In her effort to solve these mysteries of her background, many untold secrets were revealed, and she soon discovered that she might be in grave danger.

As the twists and turns continued without abating, the skilled pen of the author keeps the reader guessing until the very end when she ties up everything neatly, except for what happens to the debt collector! I was left wondering if justice was done and the lenders were punished for their exorbitant interest rates and threats to their clients. It was a thread of the story, a small detail, that probably few others will be bothered by, because the rest of the story was complete.

 

 

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review 2018-06-13 01:34
Ruth Ware has done it again with this gothic mystery; Agatha Christie would be proud!
The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

Ruth Ware has done it again! 'The Death of Mrs. Westaway' is even better than her last book, 'The Lying Game', and for me, that's saying quite a bit. I completely fell for Ware's writing and storytelling with that book (bonus points were given for taking me back to my boarding school days in Sussex), and I knew I had found my new favorite mystery author.

 

'The Death of Mrs. Westaway' takes the reader to Sussex again, this time to 'sunny' Brighton, where Hal - Harriet Westaway - has a job as a tarot card reader on the pier, which is what her mother used to do before she was killed suddenly by a car, leaving her alone and scraping by. As the bills are piling up and the dodgy 'bill-collector' keeps popping up, so does a letter saying that she has inherited a large sum of money by a mysterious and very old Mrs. Westaway. Although Hal realizes there is some mistake with the connection to her and her mother, she decides to go to the funeral at the Trespassen House out by Penzance. She wants a chance at just a bit of that money, and to figure out some family secrets that she feels her mum left behind.

 

Now that's a very rough, short synopsis. Since I'm from England, I have the fortune of reading Ruth Ware's books and imagining the English countryside, the Brighton pier, the foggy desolation around the abandoned mansion that is Trespassen House. But what is so glorious about Ware's writing is that she is able to create such atmosphere and mood, that she can conjure up imagery (I'm pretty sure) so effectively that it envelopes the story entirely, without having had to have been over there. In 'Westaway', the mansion and the grounds basically become a character of their own, and the gothic and dark images of Trespassen House are so well-written they come alive.

 

What also makes this novel so successful are the other family members make for a great ensemble, the secrets that swirl around slowly reveal themselves throughout the novel at the perfect pace, and Ware shows the reader what happened in the past without seeming contrived. It all fit so perfectly. And I never saw that ending coming! My biggest complaint was that I read it too quickly because once I picked the book up, I couldn't put it down.

 

It’s no coincidence that the current ‘Mistress Of Mystery’ has been so heavily influenced by Agatha Christie (and Daphne du Maurier) because Ware feels like the Christie of today.

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review 2018-06-05 17:43
The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

3.5 Stars

 

Creepy cover and the creepiness continued throughout this book. Then, strange things started happening to Hal.

On a mission to deceive due to her circumstances, Hal discovers a heinous relative that will kill anyone who knows the truth.

I must admit, while I enjoyed this book, I didn't get the physical suspense factor. I rarely had a racing pulse or triple digit heartbeats that I enjoy in most suspense books. Actually, it took a while before I even had some semblance of anything like it. 

In my opinion, had this book been shortened and things left out, I think it would have been a much better read. I know that is a horrible thing to say about the new "queen of suspense" but you got to have that suspense throughout the book to really be the queen, IMO.

Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2018-05-01 15:00
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

A special thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Harriet, who goes by Hal, is down on her luck.  She reads tarot cards on the Brighton pier and struggles to make ends meet.  She is all alone after her mother was tragically is killed by a hit-and-run a few years earlier.  When she receives a letter that bequeathes a large inheritance, Hal knows it to be a mistake but acts on it anyway.  She only needs a few thousand pounds to change her luck once and for all—she deserves a bit of happiness.

She makes the trip down the English coast to attend the funeral of her "grandmother" and meet her "family".  Being able to read people as well as she does, Hal quickly realizes that something is very wrong with the situation and finds herself at the centre of it because it revolves around the inheritance.

It turns out what she thought was a lie, may actually hold some truth, and someone is determined to keep it a secret.

Ruth Ware, this is fantastic!  I loved it as much as The Woman in Cabin 10. You truly are a master of your genre.  

She's checked all the boxes: a creepy old house, suspense, symbolism.  But the best part is the writing—Ware reveals just enough to keep the reader completely enthralled, but doesn't give anything away.  I especially loved the use of the tarot cards to help Hal figure out what's going on.  "Don't rush—her mother's voice in her head.  Build your story.  Lay it out—card by card."  That's exactly what Ware does.  Brilliant!  

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review 2018-04-16 18:12
Woman in Cabin 10 -- mildly entertaining and not offensively bad
The Woman in Cabin 10 - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

TL/DR: It's Rear Window on a cruise ship with an able-bodied but addlebrained female protagonist.

 

Protip: If you're on a ship where people are getting murdered and the wifi doesn't work, use your mobile data plan!

 

We had a very long drive this weekend. As usual I lost the vote on what we listened to. I didn't mind this one really, silly as it was. I ruined it for everyone by guessing the villains and the red herrings aloud (to be fair, I had it slightly askew - I got the bad guy(s) but the incorrect victim.)

The hero of this (the second of three Ruth Ware novels I was gifted for Christmas...) is another hapless, whiny woman who drinks too much and is bad at her job. Worse - she gets sea sick and has claustrophobia, but takes a working cruise anyway. Is she a moron? Yes! Is she a lucky moron? Absolutely.

 

"Lo" our hero fails at the most basic of tasks but manages to swim through an icy ocean at night fully clothed, run across Norway and ask for help from every person she can find who will do her harm. It was fun watching Ms. Ware throw obstacles into her path like Wile E Coyote does the Road Runner.

 

Ruth Ware is once again preoccupied with hangovers and drinking. This time, thankfully, she did employ a plot, and even better - women were described by more than the glory of their hair. If you are stuck in a car, there are worse books to listen to. It was mildly entertaining and not offensively bad.

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