Friday Book Whimsy: The Turn of the Key

Author Ruth Ware specializes in thriller novels with twists and turns, generally with protagonists who are troubled and often with questionable pasts. I will admit to always looking forward to her next novel, and I will also admit to almost always wondering why I was so eager to read the book when it often leaves me troubled or dissatisfied by either the characters or the ending, or both.

Unfortunately, The Turn of the Key, Ware’s latest thriller, left me feeling the same as I felt with the others. Unfulfilled and somewhat disappointed.

Rowan Caine stumbles across a help wanted ad that seems too good to be true. She has been working for terrible pay at a daycare center, and would like to make more money and be more fulfilled. Here is an advertisement for a job that not only pays well, but meets all of her other needs — some independence, darling children, an extremely nice employer. She applies for the job and is quickly hired.

That, of course, is when all hell breaks loose. The children’s father almost immediately makes a pass at her. The mother seems too good to be true. The caretaker is tall, dark and handsome. Before long, one of the children is dead, and the nanny is the prime suspect. She knows she didn’t do it, but who did?

The author must have a fascination with houses. The house in her novel In a Dark, Dark Wood was made entirely of glass, which added to the creepiness of the wooded setting. In The Turn of the Key, the house is “smart,” operating using technology.Though the creepiness of being watched by cameras and operating all of the systems using voice or touch technology could have — should have — contributed to the creepiness of the book, it missed its mark. As did the references to spiritual activity, which were just silly.

I will admit that the twist towards the end of the book caught me by surprise, but by that time I had lost interest in all of the characters. The ending was completely unsatisfying.

I can’t recommend this novel, despite the potential it offered.

Here is a link to the book.

 

Friday Book Whimsy: The Woman in Cabin 10

imgresMurder on a cruise ship. It sounds very Agatha Christie, doesn’t it? All it needs is a small Belgian detective using his little gray cells to solve the mystery. Except about the only similarity between Agatha Christie and author Ruth Ware is their British background.

The Woman in Cabin 10 is Ware’s second novel. Her first, In a Dark, Dark Wood, (which I reviewed here) was a psychological thriller that took place in an all-glass house deep in the woods somewhere in England. Her second, The Woman in Cabin 10, is another psychological thriller, this one taking place on a cruise ship.

In fact, for the most part, The Woman in Cabin 10 is simply The Girl on a Train, except on a cruise ship. I found myself alternately at the edge of my seat because of gripping tension, or screaming out loud, “Oh for heaven’s sake, don’t have another drink!”

I found the book frustrating.

Laura Blacklock (called Lo) is a writer for a London magazine. Circumstances result in her getting a coveted assignment – reporting on the inaugural cruise of a very fancy schmancy small cruise ship on some rich-and-famous people will be traveling. This is her BIG CHANCE. DON’T. SCREW. IT. UP.

Unfortunately, at the very beginning of the book (and shortly before she leaves on this business cruise), Lo’s apartment is burgled while she is home. The burglar, though he has a gun, does not kill her, but instead leaves with some of her belongings. The incident shakes her up so much that she pretty much is a wreck for the rest of the book.

Already freaked out because of her own personal incident, the very first night on the cruise ship, she borrows some makeup from the woman in the next room, and later on witnesses a body being thrown overboard from that same room.

Well, it turns out no one else has seen that particular woman – EVER – and no one else heard a body being thrown overboard. And since Lo has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder for which she takes antidepressants, and since she is already freaked out by her own scare prior to leaving, no one believes her.

So what does she do? She drinks too much, takes too many prescription medications, and tries to solve the mystery herself.

The main problem with the story, at least in my opinion, is that the character of Lo Blacklock is so inherently dislikable. I wanted to not believe her myself. She seems to be paralyzed with fear – something that might be realistic, but doesn’t make for a very interesting novel. And I seriously got so very tired of her being drunk and overmedicated. Just say no to drugs, Lo.

And yet, just as with Ware’s first novel, the writing is quite good. Good enough, in fact, that I continued to read. And while the ending didn’t blow me away with surprise, I found it to be fairly satisfying and somewhat unpredictable.

Overall, I can recommend this book for people who like thrillers such as The Girl on the Train. Just be prepared to understand that this novel, readers, is not the next The Girl on the Train, as hard as the author might try and as strongly as the publishers might try to sell the idea that it is.

Here is link to the book.

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