Title: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Lo Blacklock, a journalist working her way up the ladder at a British travel mag, has been given the chance to prove herself on an assignment covering the maiden voyage of a fabulous boutique cruise ship. It seems like a dream job — lots of champagne, spa treatments, rubbing elbows with potential investors — but the recent robbery of her apartment has rattled Lo and nothing feels quite right from day one of the trip.
Lo’s feelings of anxiety are by no means improved the first night aboard when she hears what sounds like a body being thrown overboard. She swears it must have been the woman staying in the cabin next to hers, who she borrowed makeup from earlier in evening. But when Lo calls security to voice her fears, the head of security informs her that cabin 10 has been empty since the boat launched. There has never been a guest in that cabin, all passengers and crew are accounted for, and after a thorough search of the ship, Lo can’t find the woman she met the first night of the cruise.
Desperate to figure out the identity of the mystery woman and whether there’s a murderer onboard, Lo continues to investigate. And what she finds out only leads to more trouble.
After reading so many thriller/suspense novels about with “girl” in the title, it was refreshing to pick one up about a woman!
I’d heard this book described as a page turner, and it definitely delivered. Ware grabbed me from the very start and I ripped through it in less than 48 hours. Divided into eight parts, the unfolding of the story is deliberately paced (each part ends on a cliffhanger that is then unpacked in the following section), but Ware kept it fresh with a fun twist. Before each new section, she added email exchanges and news reports from the week following the cruise that threw even more mystery on the story.
Lo’s descriptions of her time on the boat made me feel an overpowering sense of suffocation, disorientation and overall uneasiness. Although these sensations aren’t ones I’d want to experience in real life, they were perfect for putting me in Lo’s shoes. I can’t say I loved her as a character, though. I get that suspense/thrillers often use unreliable narrators, but Lo was drunk for so much of the story, even though she kept saying over and over how she shouldn’t drink. It just seems like a bit of cop-out to use alcohol as one of the driving reasons to discredit a character’s trustworthiness, and I wanted Lo to take her work as a journalist more seriously. However, I did appreciate that she was driven enough to do whatever it took to get to the bottom of the mystery. She wasn’t a complete lump
Gripes with the main character aside, the book was still a very enjoyable, fast-paced read. I physically felt compelled to keep reading because I wanted to reach an ending that provided relief for the claustrophobia and paranoia I felt vicariously through Lo. And despite some slightly confusing twists (I had to go back and reread a few sections to make complete sense of the conclusion), I closed the book believing it worth the read.