On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
Ware excels at creating atmosphere within her novels. From the first page to the last, the setting enthralls the reader. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is Ware at her best. The novel takes place in mansion on a large piece of land, so the reader is immediately captivated by the intensity of the setting. Ware communicates clearly the creepiness of the estate and pairs it with sketchy characters and lies.
What I enjoyed most about The Death of Mrs. Westaway was the main character’s, Hal, grounding in the occult, more specifically tarot cards. This framing is used throughout the novel in a variety of situations that are not always directly connected to the cards themselves. I enjoyed Ware’s take on the cards and their various meanings as I’m not a strong proponent of the occult.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a slow burning mystery that doesn’t unfold until the final few pages. However, the novel doesn’t feel slow. Ware unfolds the mystery slowly without letting the reader get bored at any point during the novel. This is in part due to the main character, Hal. She’s insightful, intelligent, and her relationship to her mother plays a prominent role in her characterization and development of the plot.
Family dynamics play an interesting role in the mystery. New people with secrets of their own surround Hal as she tries to navigate the deliciously twisted waters of the new relationships around her and get what she wants. Ware’s writing keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as she makes you question your own logic and initial judgments of these characters.
Overall, The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a slow burning mystery worth the read. If you’re looking for a mystery grounded in a creepy atmosphere with compelling characters, look no further!
** I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.