Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 is by far my favorite read of 2017 (which is when I got around to reading it). If I didn’t have to go to work, I would have sat at home in the sun and read this book until the very end. As it is, I spent most of my evenings up late reading this put. I could not put this thriller down!
This book reminds me so much of the best of Agatha Christie’s novels, such as And Then There Were None, one of my all-time favorite reads. The setting and plot mirrors Christie’s books in that it involves characters, all of whom are somewhat suspicious, damaged individuals, in an enclosed setting. With And Then There Were None, the characters were trapped on an island in a mansion. In Death On The Nile, the characters were trapped on a luxury cruise. Murder On The Orient Express involved characters trapped on a train. In The Woman in Cabin 10, the characters are trapped on a small luxury yacht. There is something to be said for a setting that involves placing your characters in a confined space, one that no one can escape with a murderer on the loose.
Both the plot and the writing are brilliant. Ware is talented writer who paints rich, vivid scenes and characters by avoiding tired metaphors and similes. The plot was original and unique, and that’s coming from someone who has read a great deal of mysteries/thrillers. Ware kept me on the edge of my seat with every single page of the book; I had absolutely no idea how the book was going to end, and once it did, it felt very satisfactory. I would love for there to be a sequel or prequel to this book! This would also make for a fabulous movie.
For those of you wanting a brief summary of the plot, here it is. Lo Blacklock is a journalist who has been sent to cover the debut of a high-end cruise experience. Blacklock has been struggling with depression and anxiety, especially after being assaulted during a burglary that occurs right before she is supposed to leave on the cruise. Her journalism career has been somewhat stagnant, which has landed her a position working for a mediocre travel magazine. Sick from pregnancy, Lo’s boss asks her to cover the cruise that was slated for her. Lo sees the cruise as an opportunity to move up in her profession, and network with the big players in her field.
As soon as she boards the cruise, she becomes overwhelmed and panicky. The yacht is much, much smaller than she imagined, making her feel like she is trapped. In addition, Lo has been suffering from insomnia and panic attacks prior to boarding the cruise, so she is exhausted when she arrives. Lo thought the insomnia would dissipate once she was out of her apartment and in a space where she wasn’t robbed, but her sleep habits only worsen on the cruise.
While getting ready to meet and greet the other tourists and journalists on the cruise, Lo discovers she forgot to pack mascara. She knocks on the door of the cabin next to her, cabin 10, and a beautiful young woman answers the door. Though rushed for some unknown reason, the young woman loans her mascara and then quickly shuts the door.
Later that night, Lo awakes to hear a woman’s scream and a splash outside her balcony’s window. She peers out of her window and sees what she believes to be bloodstains on the balcony of the cabin (cabin 10) next to hers. She calls for help, and when the cruise’s staff arrive, the blood is gone and Lo is told no one was staying in cabin 10. The staff begin to doubt Lo’s story due to her drinking, burglary, and anti-depressant consumption, but Lo will not let it go. She knows there was a woman in cabin 10, but everyone doubts her story. Who was the young woman in cabin 10, and why is everyone ignoring the bits of evidence that suggest this woman was on the cruise?