The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is the result of the successful marriage of insightful and engaging thriller with cozy mystery. Ware fills all of her novels with vibrant, relatable characters — even if they aren’t always likable. Orphaned Henrietta – Hal – Westaway is both relatable and heartbreakingly likable as she struggles to cope with her mother’s death. We meet Hal at the moment her life has hit a dangerous dead-end, with no way out, when she receives a letter from the solicitor of the recently deceased Mrs. Westaway claiming that Hal is named as a beneficent in the will. Hal finds herself in a true Agatha Christie style will reading, the results of which send tremors from the past bursting through to the present, with cataclysmic results.

Hal is a survivor but Ware doesn’t allow clichés about ‘tough’ women to rule her character. In fact, the care and finesse with which she writes even the secondary characters makes The Death of Mrs. Westaway come to life. Similarly, Ware carefully weaves tarot card reading throughout the story as a conduit for connecting with the past, exploring fears, and exposing secrets. I particularly enjoyed this unique mystical element.

I highly recommend this book to those who like psychological mystery-lite, thrillers-lite, and fans of Ruth Ware. Engrossing and entertaining, The Death of Mrs. Westaway won’t leave a deep mark on your psyche or have you scratching your head. It’s a thoroughly satisfying, fairly fast-paced read somewhere in tone and style between The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game.

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