The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

After reading Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key last month, I knew I wanted to read more of her books but wasn’t sure which one to try next. Some of you recommended The Death of Mrs Westaway, which does sound good, but as my library had The Woman in Cabin 10 available first, that is the one I’ve ended up reading. I had seen some very mixed opinions of the book and it doesn’t seem to be a favourite of Ruth Ware fans, but I enjoyed it and thought it was a perfect choice for the R.I.P. XIV challenge.

Laura Blacklock, known as Lo, is a journalist working for a London-based magazine, Velocity. With her editor in hospital, Lo has been given the job of reporting on the maiden voyage of a new luxury cruise liner, the Aurora Borealis. She knows it’s a wonderful opportunity – a free cruise around the Norwegian fjords in search of the Northern Lights and the chance to make new and influential contacts – but when her home is broken into a few days before the trip and she almost comes face to face with the burglar, she is left feeling nervous, violated and unable to relax. She doesn’t really feel like going on the cruise at all but hopes she will at least be able to have a good night’s sleep on the ship…

Unfortunately, there is more trauma ahead for Lo. On the first evening of the cruise, she knocks on the door of the cabin next to her own – Cabin 10 – and borrows a mascara from the young woman who answers the door. Later that night, after going to bed, she hears a scream from Cabin 10 and then a loud splash. Convinced that someone has been thrown overboard, Lo calls security – but when the door is opened, the room is completely empty; there are no signs that anyone had ever been staying there at all. What has happened to the woman in Cabin 10? Has Lo been imagining things or is one of her fellow passengers trying to cover up a murder?

I loved the mystery element of this book. A cruise liner makes a perfect ‘locked room’ setting; as it’s not likely that anyone will arrive or leave once at sea, that means the suspects are limited to those on board at the beginning. These include the wealthy businessman who owns the ship, his invalid wife, a renowned photographer, a travel journalist, a food writer, an ‘extreme adventure’ expert, and even Lo’s own ex-boyfriend. The Aurora Borealis is not a huge ship, but a very small one with only ten cabins – described as a ‘boutique cruise liner’ – and this increases the feeling of danger and claustrophobia as Lo becomes aware that if one of the other guests is trying to do her harm she really has nowhere to hide.

When the truth was revealed I was annoyed with myself because I felt that it was something I should have guessed or been able to work out – but didn’t. Still, it meant that I was taken by surprise because I hadn’t been expecting it at all! After this revelation, though, I felt that the rest of the book was too drawn out; although there was still a lot of drama, there wasn’t much more suspense and it seemed to take a long time to get to the final chapter. Some of the developments towards the end were hard to believe and I finished the book feeling a bit less enthusiastic about it than I did at the beginning. I did find it entertaining though and am looking forward to my next Ruth Ware book.

This is book #2 read for this year’s R.I.P. event.

17 thoughts on “The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

  1. Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads says:

    Oh this totally reminds me of that movie Red Eye or something where her daughter disappears on the plane and everyone makes like she never brought her daughter on the plane in the first place? Just the part where it seems like nobody believes the main character and she has to prove that she’s not going crazy pretty much. Great review!

  2. BookerTalk says:

    A cruise liner has to be the ultimate in locked room scenarios – as you say no-one can arrive or leave. I’m hopeless at trying to work out the solution to these kinds of stories though even with a limited number of suspects

  3. Alyson Woodhouse says:

    I would like to try some Ruth Ware sometime, as her name has come up quite a lot recently. Somehow, this one appeals to me more than The Turn of the Key did, as I’m not really a fan of thinly disguised re-tellings of classics. I might try this one and see how I get on.

    • Helen says:

      I quite enjoyed The Turn of the Key, but it probably helped that I still haven’t read The Turn of the Screw so wasn’t making comparisons. I think I preferred this one, though.

  4. Lark says:

    This one didn’t work as well for me because I did guess the big twist about the wife right from the start. And some of the chapter timeline discrepancies threw me a little. And there were a few things at the end that bugged me a little, too. But I’m still glad I read it. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Sometimes it can spoil a book if you guess the twist at the beginning. I’m pleased you were still glad you read it, though, so it wasn’t a waste of your time!

    • Helen says:

      There was a lot of suspense at the beginning of this one, but she didn’t maintain it right to the end. I’m not sure if I’ll read In a Dark, Dark Wood – it sounds the least appealing of her books to me.

  5. Sandra says:

    I have every intention of reading my first Ruth Ware very soon. It was aways going to be The Turn of the Key but I do like the sound of this one too, in particular that the cruise is around the Norwegian Ffjords, despite the assumption that the location plays little part in the plot. (I may be wrong!) I’m waiting for our library to reopen this month, then. as for you, Helen, it may be a case of seeing what’s available first.

    • Helen says:

      No, the fjords don’t play much of a part in the story, although we do see a little bit of Norway towards the end. I hope you enjoy whichever Ruth Ware book your library has available first.

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