Over the last few weeks and particularly whilst reading The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, I have found myself thinking a great deal about how much time I now spend reading crime or thriller novels. A couple of years ago this certainly wasn’t the case and that has led me to consider a number of things. Firstly, have I profoundly changed in my literary tastes or have I just developed more of an appetite for this kind of fiction? Secondly, are these genres becoming more mainstream and so attracting a more accessible kind of writer? Or finally, could it be a mix of all of the above coupled with the fact that I might simply be turning into my parents?
The answer is probably number three, a mix of all of the above. I think what you read can change with age and circumstance, but I also believe that thrillers have, quite literally, become more thrilling to me. After I had my kids, I found that there was a whole period of time when I couldn’t read or watch anything that was remotely disturbing. It was as if my whole life needed to be like a Richard Curtis film, where nothing bad ever happened and where any problem could be solved with the help of your friends. Over the last few years however, little bit by little bit, my thresholds have begun to readjust. I’m not going to pretend that I am the kind of woman who could ever comfortably sit down and watch a Tarantino film, but certainly the darker sides of life are open to my creative side again. This relaxing of my standpoint has perhaps enabled me to read more widely, but equally, I don’t remember thrillers ever being so thrilling!
On this very note, I must say that The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is an absolutely riveting read! It’s well written, engaging, terrifying and in characterisation, uncertain. It pretty much had me from the title page.
Laura, or Lo, Blacklock lives alone in a basement flat in London. An aspiring travel writer, whose career over the last few years has gone nowhere, she has been offered the opportunity to cover a luxury cruise for her magazine whilst a more senior writer is on maternity leave. One evening, shortly before departing, her apartment is burgled, leaving Lo feeling confused, vulnerable and unnerved. With these emotions running through her bloodstream she nonetheless embarks on the press trip, along with a handful of select journalists, the owner of the vessel, his guests and staff.
Once aboard no luxury is spared with staff, alcohol and comfort all in abundance, leaving Lo to believe that this will be the ideal spot to recuperate and get her career back on track. On her first night she realizes that she has forgotten to pack mascara and so asks the woman in the cabin next door, if she could borrow one. The very next day, with no stop having been made, the same woman has disappeared. Lo believes that she heard an altercation in the room the previous night, that may have resulted in the woman going overboard, but as she is the only person who ever met the woman in cabin 10, how can she prove that she even existed? As she begins to ask staff and other journalists about the missing woman, she finds herself in increasing doubt and personal danger.
Ruth Ware moves this novel along at such a pace that you almost can’t breathe. The Woman in Cabin 10 is another one of those great tales that hinge on the psychological stability of the main character and how reliable her narrative is. Are things as they seem or are other issues at stake here? Every sleepless night that Lo experiences trying to figure out what has happened to the woman, you will share as you stay awake unable to put this novel down.