The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware (2018)

Mystery
Adult
The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth WareThis new mystery from British writer Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood) is a lot of fun from start to finish. I keep thinking it’s like a grown-up Nancy Drew mystery (in a good way!), with a more realistic and nicely flawed heroine caught in a web of deceit and murder. Hal Westaway is 21, living alone in Brighton three years after her mother was brutally killed by a hit and run driver. With no income and few options, she picks up her mum’s tarot cards and continues her business on the pier. During a slow period, with bills piling up, she turns to a loan shark for help, and they are demanding more than she can pay back. So when a solicitor’s letter arrives letting her know her grandmother has died and left her some money, Hal is thrilled. Except she knows it’s a mistake; her grandmother has been long dead. But faced with the threat of bodily harm from the loan shark’s collector, she decides to go in hopes of getting a few hundred pounds from a rich family that won’t miss it. But nothing goes quite as she planned, and soon Hal is caught between her ethics, her desire for family, and clues suggesting her past is not at all what she thought it was. The pacing is slow and steady, with events building up the tension as we start to realize what’s going on, only to be thrown by a new bit of information. I was sure I’d identified the killer early on – nope. Then I thought I’d figured out the twist – nope again. And the setting is perfect – creepy old house, dark and shut-up rooms, a sinister housekeeper with a clicking cane, and confusing clues all wrapped up in lousy cell service. Ware is clearly influenced by Agatha Christie and Daphne Du Maurier for this one, and does a fine job of honouring the great dames of mystery in creating an atmospheric, gothic thriller in a modern setting. Loved it! And with such a young heroine, this is a great choice for transitioning teen readers to the adult mystery genre. My thanks to publisher Simon & Schuster Canada for the digital reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40382795-the-death-of-mrs-westaway
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