A Brilliant Woman and The Mystery of Cabin 10

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong… 

Warning: This book is highly addictive.

Let me just start by saying how Ruth Ware is my new obsession. On rare occasions do I enjoy thriller/mystery books, which is interesting because I love binges of these types of shows on Netflix, but as soon as I finished In a Dark, Dark Wood, I knew I needed to read Cabin 10. Goodreads rating: 5 magnificent stars.

There’s no other way to describe this book than delicious…I devoured it within 72 hours…and by the time it all ended, I was left with an insatiable hunger for more. Ware’s sentences pack tons of detail and everyone I talked to about this book agrees that the descriptions make you feel like you’re there on the ship with Lo. There were times I got off the train on my way to work and the smell of the ocean gave me a flashback to a scene Lo described. From the sliding doors of the verandas to the high-class-multi-course dinners, I experienced it all. Ware has this way of encapsulating emotions and vivid scenes with her words and it is so addictive I cannot believe I lived this long without reading them.

Throughout both works by Ware, I had a difficult time not comparing her to Gillian Flynn; even though they are very similar (i.e. protagonists being mentally unstable or victimized writers, writing style, etc.) they also have glaring differences. While Flynn creates and exploits the unhinged elites via Gone Girl, Ware defends the under dogs that fight a losing battle for credibility. While Flynn allows the Alpha to win, Ware shows the Beta’s battle, every gritty detail.

I will not even lie, there was a fleeting moment when I thought that maybe Lo herself was the killer and how it made sense. She takes pills for an unknown [at the time] reason, had a mental break a few years earlier, and drinks a lot…to the point where she forgets doing or not doing something. Before you get to know her, you are skeptical and it really is easy to doubt her; but alas, did she do it? No, which is a relief because she is such a good person. Is she stuck and lost in her own life, in desperate need of change? Yes. Is she vulnerable and at times so much so that it’s annoying? Ugh, yes. But would she risk her own life, to bring someone’s death to justice? Most definitely. And is she someone you can relate to? Does she exemplify your fears and normal reactions to dangerous situations with annoying accuracy? Yes and yes.

Which brings me to my favorite part of this entire book- the plot. This book is full of plot twists and it is impossible to fully predict what happens; it’s easy enough to predict some small pieces in an attempt to grapple at the bigger picture, but I guarantee you will be unable to solve the puzzle. Which is very ironic considering, in retrospect, the end is so obvious it’s painful.

This book is for the people that are always able to figure out the ending of mysteries and are immune to plot twists. It is also for the people that see how society labels those with mental illnesses and attempts to undermine their credibility, but as a reader and possibly first hand victim, you believe them and want to see them shine. If you are neither of these readers, then read this book anyway…I promise you will not regret it.


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