Family secrets haunt Ware’s latest thriller


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Ruth Ware, the current reigning queen of suspense, returns to the literary scene with a modern gothic, The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/06/2018 (1514 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ruth Ware, the current reigning queen of suspense, returns to the literary scene with a modern gothic, The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

Hailed as the Agatha Christie of our time, the British novelist has kept our hearts racing and our minds bending with bestselling thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game.

Now, Ware absolutely slays with this rich and haunting homage to a good old-fashioned thriller. Her fourth — and perhaps best — novel is a murder-mystery classic in the making.

Tarot-card reader by day and lonely girl by night, Harriet (Hal) Westaway is one unpaid bill away from eviction. After the untimely death of her beloved mother, Hal is forced to take up the trade simply to make ends meet. But after several years of struggle in her tiny booth on the Brighton pier, she caves to an enticing loan only to find out the strings attached are more like chains.

A slave to debt, Hal is nearly out of luck.

Not a moment too soon, Hal receives an offer that could solve all her problems — the only trouble is, the offer wasn’t exactly meant for her.

A letter arrives with the news of her “grandmother’s” passing and an invitation to join the family for a reading of Mrs. Westaway’s will. However, Hal’s grandparents passed away years prior, and she realizes the letter must have been meant for another Harriet Westaway.

But desperation is a powerful force. Armed with the ability to read people and a talent for telling credible lies — tools of the tarot trade she’s picked up over the years both by watching her mother and by “cold reading” customers on the pier — Hal buys a train ticket with her last few dollars and last few shreds of hope.

Invited to spend the weekend with the Westaway family at Trepassen house, a rather rundown gothic manor complete with a creepy housekeeper, Hal readies herself for the role of a lifetime in the hopes of winning some quick cash and watching her troubles fly away.

Arriving at the funeral of Mrs. Westaway, Hal is ready to play her part and comes prepared with a backstory — but what she isn’t prepared for are the horrific secrets the Westaway family is desperately trying to hide.

Uncovering stunning revelations about her own mother and Trepassen, Hal must quickly decide whether to come clean or to continue down a treacherous path.

With her signature evocative storytelling, Ware methodically peels back layers and decades of family secrets, unveiling the dark ties that bind the Westaways. Each Westaway has skin in the game, and Ware has once again written a stellar cast of characters.

Hal, in particular, is a bright light in the darkness — while her initial intentions might not be very pure, her resourcefulness and inherent goodness shine in a most genuine way.

Spooky and claustrophobic, Ware’s newest release will have you looking over your shoulder and sleeping with the light on.

A master of atmosphere, Ware has crafted an indelible mystery with The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

Katrina Sklepowich is a lover of all things literary, and creator of the Literally, Katrina podcast and blog at

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