The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 May 2018

Member Reviews

This was an O.K. novel. I expected something a bit better seeing I've already read something from Ruth Ware before and loved it. I'm hoping to eventually read another novel by her to hopefully make up for this. 

It strongly felt like a different book I had read before, and sadly it was done better. 

Thank you for letting me read this book before it was published, and I hope to read a lot more from this publisher.
Was this review helpful?
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a book I received some time back and placed it up on the shelf and shamefully forgot I even had it. When I did finally locate it, opened it and read it. I found that like a fine wine or well aged steak, it was a delicacy waiting for me to enjoy.


"...Dear Miss Westaway,
I am writing at the instruction of my client, your grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway of Trespassen House, St. Piran.
Mrs. Westaway passed away on 22nd November, at her home. I appreciate that this news may well come as a shock to you; please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.
As Mrs. Westaway's solicitor and executor, it is my duty to contact beneficiaries under her will. Because of the substantial size of the estate..."

It was a day like any other for Hal Westaway since the death of her mother. She worked her booth at the Pier, reading fortunes in the Tarot cards and eeking out a living that was not enough to feed her or clothe her. The past dues were piling up and soon the utilities would be turned off and she would find herself out on the streets. Worse was the money she had borrowed from Mr. Smith. A man without qualms about how he went about collecting on a debt.

The the letter came and all Hal could do was see the words....beneficiaries....substantial was as if fortune was beginning to change for her. Except for one problem. Her grandmother has been dead for twenty years. The letter was meant for someone else!

Could Hal pretend to be the granddaughter of Mrs. Westaway? Could she claim the inheritance that belonged to someone else. The risk was great but so could be the reward, and really, what choice did she have. If she ignored the letter the bill collectors would come calling and one of them, might be the death of her.

Hal travels to Trespassen House and the reading of the will. She must fool not only the solicitor but the whole of Mrs. Westaway's family. For they had never known there was a granddaughter that might lay claim to the estate. But Trespassen house has secrets of its own.

"...The bars gave Hal a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, though she could not have said why. Perhaps it was the incongruity of finding them up here, in the attic. On the ground floor they might have been needed to keep out intruders. But up here there was only one explanation: these were bars not to keep someone out-but in. Only...this was not a nursery room, where the bars might be needed to safeguard a clambering toddler. It was a maid's room, far from the rest of the house, totally impractical for a small child.
What kind of person needed to stop their maids from escaping..."

Hal begins to realize that she is not the only one keeping secrets at Trespassen House. The Westaways have secrets of their own and Trespassen House has a secret Hal may not survive.


There is not another writer going today who can lay claim to the mantle of the Great Agatha Christie like Ruth Ware can. Atmospheric, Gothic, slow churning tension that trembles like an ulcer in your guts. Ware does not only slide the knife in, she takes perverse pleasure in slowly twisting in a circle. Counter clockwise to boot!

There is also a pleasure for a reader to watch the growth and confidence in a writer from her first offering to the skill with which she presents her current work. I have been a fan of Ware's since I first read In A Dark, Dark Wood to this her fourth book, The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I know that there is another book out, The Turn of The Key and you can believe I will be reading and reviewing that one shortly!

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a creepy mystery that develops with each turn of the page. It is a mystery that is well crafted that if they make a movie of it, it should only be done in black and white. Simply put, it may well be the best mystery I have read in some time.

That is, until I read the next Ruth Ware offering.

One hell of a good book!
Was this review helpful?
Ruth Ware is masterful in the way she composes complex and positively addictive stories. The layers of suspense and character development are only surpassed by the quick-paced nature of her writing. The perfect amount of intrigue and eerieness.
Was this review helpful?
Ruth Ware's slow-burning mystery is well done and deserves all the favorable comparisons to Agatha Christie.

On a dark and stormy night....we find our main character, Hal when she receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance.  She realizes that the letter was sent to the wrong person but she is so desperate to escape the financial burden and loan sharks that she is under, she thinks that her cold-reading skills (from being a pier tarot card reader) will help her get the inheritance.  When she realizes that she is inheriting the entire estate, and that not all is as it seems, she must figure out the mystery of her mother and the other Westaways before it is too late. 

From the gloomy grey cover to Ware's bone-chilling description of the weather and the estate, it leaves you dreading whatever is coming next and freezing!  I just wanted to warm Hal up!  Although her behavior is questionable, you do relate to Hal and have compassion for her.  I did know where the mystery was going but that didn't stop me from enjoying the big reveal. 

The only negative I would say is that the beginning was a little too slow-burning but eventually picked up.
Was this review helpful?
Ruth ware writes a great story. Keeps you guessing til the very end. She makes the characters believable and lovable or love to hate.
Was this review helpful?
Ruth Ware’s master storytelling again sets readers on edge as the story of Hal Westaway unfolds in the creepy Trepassen House. The story takes time to set up, and the beginning is a bit slow however it is necessary to get the full experience of what Hal is going through, and how her situation came to be. With an eerie background, a bleak, cold winter, and strangers masked as family, Hal has found herself in an ever increasingly dangerous situation that she cannot find a way out of.
Was this review helpful?
Harriet Westaway, better known as Hal, finds herself down on her luck. She’s a Brighton Pier tarot card reader who is behind on her rent and owes money to less than reputable men, and then add to her situation the fact that her mother was rundown in a horrific auto accident three years prior. When she’s about to reach her lowest, Hal receives a mysterious letter in the mail from a lawyer representing her grandmother in Cornwall, who has recently passed away. A promise of an inheritance dangled in front of her, Hal feels relieved that some of her money issues might be alleviated.

However, there is one small thing: Hal’s grandparents died years before and she has no clue who this Mrs. Westaway could be.

With her perceptive skills as a tarot reader, Hal packs her bag and hops a train for the Cornish estate with the intent of misleading the Westaway family into believing she is one of their own.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is Ruth Ware’s fourth novel and with her newest addition, the author keeps getting better. She channels the spirit of an Agatha Christie novel: estranged members of a wealthy family are recalled to their childhood estate, each with a complicated opinion of their late mother. They are isolated with a cranky housekeeper named Mrs. Warren who might be just as old as the house itself, plus foreboding warnings, and bad weather and circumstances that keep drawing Hal back to the home every time she tries to get away. Ware ramps up the tension as Hal attempts to hide her true identity from the Westaway clan while digging for truths and clarity that she didn’t even know she was looking for. It would be easy to say that layers of mystery are peeled away, but Ware offers something much more: a maze with crooked halls and unknown corners. With The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ware doesn’t disappoint. It is a novel that will pull you in with its enigmatic charm and intriguing mysteries.
Was this review helpful?
The Death of Mrs. Westaway Reveals a Secret Never Told
The estate of the Westaways has always been infested with magpies, and as the old rhyme about magpies goes, one is for sorrow, but seven is for a secret that has never been told. When Hal arrives at Trepassen House, the seat of the Westaway’s wealth, she has no idea that is about to stumble upon both sorrow, and a family secret so horrific, its no wonder it had never been told. See the source imageThe house itself sits moodily on the Cornish coast, as gray and uncompromising as the dead Mrs. Westaway and her long-held secrets. But why should Hal care, she’s just there to defraud a family that isn’t really hers so that she can pay off some debts…right?

When Hal receives word that she is possibly an heir to a vast fortune, left to her by a grandmother she never knew, she had just returned home from being shaken down by her loan shark’s debt collector. Although she believes the legacy must be a case of mistaken identity, she chooses to try to claim a stake anyway…afterall, the rich have climbed to their lofty heights on the backs of the less fortunate. It seems  only fair that she take advantage of the situation! Much to her surprise, she finds a warm welcome from the type of extended family that she had always wished for, and a renewed set of questions about who her father might have been…and suddenly, who her mother really was. Hal’s own identity is called into question in a way that she never would have expected, leading to a chilling set of discoveries about the Westaway Image result for running through forest giffamily, and Hal’s place within it. These discoveries come quickly, and far too late for Hal to run away, try as she might.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway includes Ruth Ware’s signature twists and turns, false leads, and a jam-packed conclusion, that is wistfully triumphant. As readers have come to expect, her characters are neither wholly good, nor wholly evil, making their motives and actions hard to pin point. This book is set apart from previous ones by its hint of the occult, and a darker twistedness than even her most sinister past offerings. Although it has a slower start than previous works, the last 100 pages make it nearly impossible to put down. This is a must-read for all Ruth Ware’s fans, and a worthy first read for her future fans!
Was this review helpful?
This was fabulous—a weird mix of Du Maurier and Christie.  I kept thinking I knew what happened, and I kept being wrong.  Lots of twisty turny paths and a gothic setting.
Was this review helpful?
This is the third book from Ruth Ware that I've read (previously LOVED In a Dark, Dark Wood and So/So The Woman in Cabin 10).  I must say, I do think this author's got talent and I like her characters, as she definitely lets you know their perspectives (sometimes too much in their heads), but unfortunately, this is my least favorite so far.

The synopsis of the story was enough to intrigue me: who wouldn't want a letter stating that you have an inheritance coming when you've got bills piling up on your kitchen table?  And I will say I'll give this book 4/5 stars for the characters that intermingle like the cast of Clue.  However, I did feel that some explanations were lacking and there are some bizarre events that take place once Hal meets the rest of the family and stays at the family residence.  And to be frank: it just feels cattywampus. 

The beginning of the story started out strong: letting you follow Hal to her tarot card stand, and seeing her encounter a few curious patrons, but then after the notice about the letter, it doesn't seem to build as much suspense.  And the part where there is a big reveal, left me going, "Huh? Did I miss something?"  I typically pick up on little details, but this didn't have the crescendo I was so looking forward to.  It ended up being a lead balloon.  

However, I'm not giving up on Ms. Ware.  I love suspense and I think she is a great story teller.  So, if you're like me, and you tend to keep giving grace, do so for Ms. Ware.  This may be a great read for you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Was this review helpful?
“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.” No words can surpass this blurb. In rare form, Ware transform the seedy beginnings to an eventful turn of a disputed family inheritance into a drama of Hal gaining benevolence. A formidable author bending a familiar family woe begoned!
Was this review helpful?
There is something about Ruth Ware's books--and I have read them all--that make them both disappointing and satisfying. I enjoy her characters and the plot, but they have all been predictable. This one is no exception.

Hal works as a tarot reader at a pier. She is broke and she owes a lot of money to a loan shark. Luck seems to be on her side though. She gets a letter from her grandmother's solicitor that implies that there is an inheritance. The problem is that the woman named on the letter is not Hal's grandmother.

Since Hal needs the money, she counts on her acting skills to get her through the funeral and the legal proceedings that will follow.
Was this review helpful?
This is a great old-fashioned style mystery:  Creepy house (check), secrets (check), tarot cards (check), an unexpected will (check).  Although there is a bit of Scooby-Doo in this tale, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.  Your socks won't be blown off by the ending  (you likely will have completed most of the puzzle), but where that feels disappointing in other novels, it felt ok here.  There is not a rush to "wrap it up quickly" as I've noticed recently in similar reads, and the end feels satisfying.  Additionally, some many recent mysteries seem light on character development, but not here.  I fell in love with the main player Hal (Harriet) and the side players, even the marginal ones, were paid careful attention.  If you like a well-written, solid mystery, this will be a pleasure to read.  Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing an advance copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This mystery throws many options and paths in front of you to sift through to solve the mystery. You feel empathy and compassion for Hal and her plight.
Was this review helpful?
Another thrilling tale from Ruth Ware! Hal is caught up in money troubles after the death of her mother, so a mysterious invitation to a Mrs Westaway's funeral and possible inheritance drives her far from home to a family she didn't know existed. Yet, she's not sure they are her family. Her mother was tight-lipped about her parents, but something isn't adding up. From top to bottom, there are plenty of family secrets and twists to keep you on your toes.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the Woman in Cabin 10 so I thought I would give another Ruth Ware a go.  The Death of Mrs. Westware was another page turner just like The Woman in Cabin 10.   There was suspense and subtle dread.  I couldn't wait to turn the page and find out what happens. This was a classic whodunit, red herrings, twists and turns.  Overall it was a good read

Hal barely makes a living as a tarot card reader who’s hiding from the local loan shark when she gets a letter informing her of an inheritance from a grandmother she never knew about. Hal shows up at the funeral and discovers a  family members,three uncles, her mother failed to mention. Here begins Hal’s quest for the truth about her background, her deceased mother and now a deceased grandmother she didn’t know she had.
Was this review helpful?
This is a delightful homage to Agatha Christie. The opening setting at Bath in the off-season was something I'd not encountered before. I enjoyed every bit of this.
Was this review helpful?
Better than The Woman in Cabin 10! I enjoyed this mystery that started out a little slow but once it picked up, I was eager to get to the bottom of it! Ware did a great job with the character development and twist at the end!
Was this review helpful?
A modern day Gothic mystery with interesting family dynamics and a old mansion with many hidden secrets. This is my first novel by British novelist Ruth Ware. She has written several psychological mysteries and  has a large fan base, which led me to pick this up. Nice writing and a solid mystery.
Was this review helpful?
The Death of Mrs. Westaway opens on Hal, a struggling fortune-teller. Hal was already amongst the disadvantaged even before her mother's tragic death and her resulting bout of depression. But now with the local loan shark sending out goons to collect on a loan she has no money to repay, Hal feels hopeless. When a letter arrives mistaking her as the inheritor of a substantial estate, Hal sees it as the only possible escape from under the thumb of the loan shark with her bones intact. What Hal does not realize is that by claiming this inheritance, she might uncover the dark past of the Westaway family, a past that they want to remain buried.
Ruth Ware has done it again! The Death of Mrs. Westaway upholds the reputation Ware has built with her previous hits, The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game. Ware uses her tried and true formula of a flawed heroine discovering secrets from the past that others want to remain hidden forever, and at all costs. While this is emerging as Ware's signature formula, she has made The Death of Mrs. Westaway unique and intriguing.
Was this review helpful?