Woman in Cabin 10...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

It had been awhile since I'd read a suspenseful mystery, so I thought I'd grab The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware from the library and give it a shot. I had noticed it on "Must Read" lists...and comparisons to The Girl on the Train, which I'd enjoyed (although it really made me question my alcohol consumption!). Despite thinking the cover looked remarkably similar to a ton of other recent books I'd noticed on the shelves, I figured it was worth checking out.

 Goodreads
I would give this book a solid 3 1/2 stars (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads) because I think the author was going for an Agatha Christie style whodunnit, but she didn't quite make it. The first bit dragged for me...the middle was good...and the end was so so.

The book starts with Lo Blacklock being burgled during the night in her flat in London. She has always struggled with anxiety, for which she is taking medication, but the burglary really throws her head into a spin. She is barely through her initial shock when she hops onto a luxury yacht to write a story for her boss, who is on maternity leave. This is her chance to finally make it big in her career. She just has to schmooze a few folks and write a great paper. But her nerves are shot, and the whole event has started off wrong. Then she wakes in the night with the faint memory of a scream in her mind...and hears a large splash outside her room. Did she witness a murder? But there's no one missing on the ship? And why isn't anyone else believing her?

I used to LOVE Agatha Christie novels...and Murder on the Orient Express was always my favorite. I like the idea of the closed room mystery. Something has happened, and you know there is a murderer among you. Initially you think it was one character...then something else is discovered and you change your mind and move to the next suspect. The entire time you are flipping pages faster and faster...dying to know how the story is going to resolve itself.

The Woman in Cabin 10 just didn't do an amazing job at building the tension, or even getting to know the characters that may have been involved in the "murder". I didn't feel like I knew any of the them well enough to venture a guess that they might be involved. Their descriptions upon Lo meeting and interacting with them was very brief. It was more Lo making mistakes and stumbling through a dinner party, and less about the other folks there. So when it came time for her to go through the other folks on the yacht, worrying about who had done it, I found myself having trouble remembering who was who. (This is where the evasiveness of trying not to write spoilers makes it difficult to really write a book review!)
My other issue with this book is their use of Lo's anxiety issues as a means of disregarding her worries and complaints when presented with them. In The Girl on the Train, the character Rachel spends an entire book doubting herself and trying to get folks to believe her, because of her alcoholism. Her alcoholism is basically another character in the book, and it is believable. As someone who has had issues with anxiety in the past, although not at a level needing daily medication, I find it hard that anyone would think that it would preclude her from rationally explaining that someone is writing notes on her mirror while she's in the shower, or things are missing from her room. Or that because of her glasses of champagne, and little white pill, she may have hallucinated a woman giving her a tube of mascara from the room next door. It is one thing to have your drunken blackouts be a reason for having things mixed up in your mind, it's another to have anxiety be given the same doubtful response. I am in no way dismissing anxiety, don't get me wrong. I have friends whose whole lives are greatly affected by their anxiety problems. But when something like 11% of the American population take antidepressants, I don't think anyone would find them cause for dismissal of a woman's complaints that she witnessed a murder. You might think her reaction to things would be heightened perhaps, but not hallucinated. Or at least that is my opinion.

Okay, after going on that rant, I went back and changed it to a 3 stars! LOL

Really, the book had a lot of promise, I just don't think it got all the way there. It wasn't a bad book, I enjoyed it enough to keep flipping pages. But the middle lacked depth, and the ending was a bit disappointing. It wouldn't be a bad book club book though, because there definitely is enough in it to generate quite a bit of discussion. And it isn't so long of a book to be overwhelming for your less enthusiastic readers. But I feel like the author was trying to make the next Girl on the Train or Gone Girl...and it didn't quite get there.

So, have you read this one? Did you like it? How do you feel about Agatha Christie style mysteries? Do you think I'm being a little too harsh? Let me know in the comments, either here or over on my Facebook page!

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