The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 May 2018

Member Reviews

The Westing Game meets Gone Girl. The Death of Mrs. Westaway captured my attention on the very first page. I believe it is Ruth Ware's best novel to date. I immediately loved and sympathized with Hal, a poor tarot card reader who's entire life changes when she receives a letter from a lawyer, dangling a surprise inheritance in her lap. What follows is a haunting tale of love, betrayal, and murder.
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Ruth Ware is back with another suspenseful mystery that will keep you late at night reading til the wee hours. Loved this book to bits!!
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I was really into this for about the first half of the book.  Then it started to drag a little.  And then the mystery was revealed and I was a little confused for a little bit and so then I lost interest even more.  Not as good as Ware's previous books but not bad.
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You guys, I am so torn about my feelings! I liked The Death of Mrs. Westaway a whole lot more than The Lying Game, but I didn't love it like I loved The Woman in Cabin 10. It was a bit repetitive (like describing how one man is doughy around the middle constantly), and Hal, the main character, said sorry so much that it started driving me crazy. However, The Death of Mrs. Westaway did make me laugh out loud more than once, and I really enjoyed the diary entries that are interspersed throughout.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is about a girl named Hal who is down on her luck (to say the least). Her mom passed away, she owes a loan shark money, plus the tarot reading business she took over when her mom died is barely bringing enough money in to pay the bills, let alone pay off her loan. So when she gets a letter from a lawyer about being named in a dead woman's will who is supposedly her grandma (even though she knows she isn't), Hal jumps at the chance for some free money. Using what little she has, Hal hops a train and heads out to the estate. From there so much suspense ensues that this book was incredibly action packed. 

I never got bored with The Death of Mrs. Westaway and the ending was like BAM, so crazy and I didn't see it coming. There was mystery and suspense from the first page which a lot of people are going to love. It also has an old-timey feel even though the latest the book goes back is the mid-90s. I honestly felt like I was reading something based in the 40s or 50s then someone would mention a phone and I'd be like whaaaat? I loved the old timey feel though, and it really made this book stand out for me.

Final Thought: Even though this book didn't quite live up to what I was hoping it would be, I still really enjoyed it. I think a ton of people are going to enjoy this new creation from Ruth Ware. It is just so different from her other books, but in a good way. Ware is definitely one of my favorite authors, and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway in 3-ish words: Imaginative, Delightful & Deceptive
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I really enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10, so I had high hopes for this book, and it definitely met my expectations! The dark mansion setting and characters that keep you guessing. Definitely recommend!
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A wonderful, yet creepy tale of family and the secrets that can be buried and hidden from those you love. This was an engrossing read and one to check out!

Ruth Ware has a great reputation in the literary world but I have not had the chance to pick up one of her books. So I was highly anticipating this book and hoped that she would not let me down. Happily, I can say it was exactly what I was looking for in a good mystery story with some heightened suspense too.

This story started off with plenty of intrigue and interest. It did take a bit for the windup and the full mystery to show itself. A few bits were a tad predictable but for the most part there are plenty of twists that keep you guessing.

The author is a wonderful storyteller with awesome descriptions and fine detail that keeps the interest high. I felt like I was right there in the story myself many times and just wanted to protect poor Hal. All I could think about was the freezing cold biting through her bones. Ware brings us great imagery and an overall a fabulous story.

While this is my first story by her, I now know I will be looking for other books when I need a bit of creep factor and mystery in my life. Engrossing and not to be missed!
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When I was 13 or so, I bought a Seventeen Magazine that contained, nestled among the glossy pictures of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and James Van Der Beek, a very rudimentary guide to palm reading.

Ever inquisitive, I read the guide carefully and inspected my own palm, trying to draw from every slope and imperfection some insight into what the future that stretched out before me might hold.

After “mastering” my skills on my own palm, I read the palms of friends, continually returning to this magazine, this article, until the wrinkled pages took on a fabric-like softness.

It was this stint as a (very) amateur palm reader that came immediately to mind when I was introduced to Hal, the protagonist of The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware’s newest novel. 

Harriet, or Hal as she is known, lives a meager existence. Her only source of income is the little she can scrape together working as a tarot card reader on a vacation pier in England. And, while this work might be sufficiently sustaining in summer when the pier is flush with tourists, when it isn’t warm and sunny — so, basically, most of the time —  she hardly brings in enough to pay the rent on her stall.

Hal has worked in this capacity since the unexpected death of her mother, who was mowed down in a hit and run several years prior. Since her mother’s passing, Hal has been alone in the world. 

A ship without a port. 

A girl without a long term plan — or, really, any plan, come to that. 

But then, Hal experiences something to which she is unaccustomed — a bit of good luck. She receives a letter from a lawyer stating that Hal’s grandmother, Hester Westaway, has died and that, as a result, Hal is to receive an inheritance. 


Wait. Not so fast.

There is a problem. (Obviously) 

Hester Westaway isn’t Hal’s grandmother. And Hal knows it. 

Aware that this is a mix up, and moral — even to a fault at times — Hal plans to inform the lawyer of his mistake. 

That plan changes pretty fucking fast, though, when a leg-breaker for a local loan shark comes ‘round and informs Hal that if she doesn’t come up with money immediately things aren’t going to go well for her.

So Hal, feeling that she has basically no fucking choice, spends what little money she has left to buy a ticket to Penzance and, basically, crash the funeral for the woman she knows is not her grandmother in hopes that she’ll inherit a little bit of money so she can settle her debts and finally stop living so hand-to-mouth.

But when she gets to Penzance, sees the mysterious Trepassen mansion and meets the family of the recently deceased  Mrs. Westaway, it becomes clear that things won’t be as simple as Hal had hoped. 

Adding to the complication of this already complicated AF situation, Hal begins to find evidence that her mother — who, despite bearing the surname of Westaway, never mentioned her connection to the Westaway’s of Penzance — was actually a resident of Trepassen house at some point prior to Hal’s birth. 

Trepassen House holds secrets, Hal quickly realizes. But why are these secrets buried so deeply? Who is desperate to keep these truths from being unearthed? And, perhaps most importantly, how great a length will this secret-keeper go to ensure that the truth doesn’t come out?

This is Ruth Ware’s fourth book, and I have read each and every one, so I feel a can safely consider myself a bit of a Ware aficionado. #HumbleBrag.

When I first saw this book come available for advanced reading I was excited, specifically because I feel that Ware’s growth as an author has resulted in a startlingly significant increase in quality from book to book. So I went into this book hoping — and, really, confident — that it would be her best yet.

So, was it?

Well, like my relationship with zombies… it’s complicated.

I mean, there were some definite strengths to this book.

The most significant of these strengths was the clear dedication of attention to the establishment of truly scintillating settings. Ware did an exceedingly effective job of capturing the natural mysticism of both the boardwalk on which Hal plyed her wares and the old, massive, and intimidating Trepassan House. 

As I read, I could feel the cold in my joints, appreciate the sting of the surf on my skin, and all-but see the line of largely shuttered-for-the-winter shops laying just feet from the choppy surf.

Similarly, I felt authentic trepidation as Hal explored the dimly lit, windy hallways of Trepassen house — girl, go back to your room. This shit is scary and literally not one time ever did something good come out of exploring the dark hallway of a scary-ass ancient house. I also had had a palpable desire to leaf through the pages of the mysterious books that filled the long-ago-abandoned library.

Another clear strength was Ware’s development of her protagonist.

All told, I legitimately liked Hal as a character. 

She was spunky. 

She was strong. 

She persisted where others might understandably have perished. 

Honestly, I connected with her almost immediately, so it wasn’t difficult to become invested in her as a person. 

I wanted her to be safe. 

I wanted her to be successful. 

I wanted her to not have her legs broken by the loan shark or be discovered to be a big fat fraud by this family.

I must say, though, while I never completely stopped caring about her, my affinity for her did wain a bit as the book went on. Unfortunately, much time was spent as the plot progressed discussing how Hal was wrestling with the choice that she made to deliberately defraud this family. 

And, admittedly, I understand why Ware belabored this point. 

She wanted us to like Hal. 

She wants us to think of Hal as a moral person. 

She wants us to think of Hal as someone who has a conscience. 

That being said, there was quite a bit excessive time dedicated to the weighing of decisions and the deliberation regarding the potential impact of proceeding with her plan to knowingly mislead the family. 

Ultimately, I found myself saying aloud “Listen, I get it. She feels bad. Can we move past this? Like, please?” 

Granted, I didn’t say this aloud until, like, three glasses of wine in. Because, before that, #inhibitions.

Though slightly annoying — and IMO unnecessary — the continued return to Hal’s feelings of guilt was just a minor flaw.

The real Achilles heel of this book was the driving mystery itself. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t quite thrilling enough to induce the chills that readers usually seek when they pluck a book off the shelf in the thriller/mystery section. 

There were unanswered questions until nearly the end of the book, which should have been enough to keep me reading. 

But, regrettably, I wasn’t sufficiently perturbed by the continued existence of these questions to really care what the answers ended up being.

And the fact that I didn’t care what the answer ended up being — in this rare case — was probably good. Because the most important answer — the one I had spent the entire book seeking — ended up being really, quite significantly, unsatisfying.

Despite these inarguably noteworthy concerns, I cannot write this book off entirely due, in large part to the fact that the writing was exceptionally solid, the vocabulary diverse and the protagonist endearing.

All things considered, the novel was good. 

It was atmospheric. 

It was engaging. 

But it wasn’t the best book I’ve read all year, and it wasn’t the best work Ruth Ware has put out there into the world.

It gets 3 out of 5 cocktails. 

Ware has, in my eyes, set quite a high bar for herself. Until she can match the strength of The Lying Game, it will be hard for me to justify rating another one of her works as highly as I did that one.
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I didn’t love this as much as The Lying Game, it felt slow at times and lacked the suspense I was anticipating. It also really bugged me that the MC went by Hal as a nickname for Harriet. It is what it is, but Hal feels decidedly masculine to me and I kept getting thrown off.
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I think this might have been my favorite Ruth Ware offering so far.  A modern-day noir filled with a creepy estate and even creepier characters.  Good read - it really took you away!
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Fans of Ruth Ware will once again be thrilled with her latest novel, The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Hal, just 21, is struggling through her days after the passing of her mother just 3 years ago and her more recent indebtedness to a questionable loan shark. In the mail, she receives notification of the death of her grandmother, which may lead to a substantial inheritance at the reading of the will. Hal, young yet fairly well skilled in life, immediately knows this is in error- the woman who passed is not her grandmother. However, the potential for a tantalizing inheritance is too much- Hal attends the funeral and subsequent meetings with solicitors and other family members listed in the will under the guise of “granddaughter”. Fairly quickly, Hal realizes something with this family is amiss. She dives headfirst into the details to unravel the truth. Ware has constructed a tight novel in which the obvious is not so obvious and the truth is elusive. Hal is a likeable character in her naiveté, hope, and hurt.
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I've been a fan of Ware's since In a Dark, Dark Wood, but The Death of Mrs. Westaway may be my favorite. There was suspense from the first page until the last. A lot of modern Brit thrillers all feel like Girl on the Train copycats or can be really gross, but Westaway reads like a classic Christie novel. Definitly recommend to all thriller fans.
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With thanks to NetGalley,com and the author, Ruth Ware, for the advanced reader copy.

"The Death of Mrs. Westaway" is a psychological thriller and a family drama wrapped up into one.  Hal, a young tarot card reader in the holiday town of Brighton, is struggling to make ends meet when she receives a letter announcing the death of a grandmother she did not know she had, and a possible bequest.  Hoping to turn her circumstances around, she spends much of her remaining cash to travel to a funeral and family home, confident that she can convince people she is who they thinks she is, the long lost granddaughter.  As events unfold, the bequest is much larger than anticipated; the Grandmother and her still-living housekeeper much less humane than imagined; the 'new' uncles and family more welcoming than expected.  Hal has doubts about her goal, and doubts about her ties to this family.  The twists and turns are surprising, the end result somewhat expected.  A page turner to the very end, I read it in one day and found it a satisfying read!
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How fun! An old fashioned mystery, set in a crumbling mansion, on the stormy, atmospheric Cornish coast. It's all here: A varying clutch of relatives, a creepy old housekeeper, a locked attic room, a will, and  enough ambiguous clues to keep you guessing until the jarring twist at the end. Wonderful. Good writing and a truly enjoyable stay up all night read.
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Ruth Ware has done it again. This book is a quintessential thriller, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time! The story follows the tale of Hal, a tarot card reader in Brighton as she is notified that she has inherited an estate without ever having known the person. I was absolutely intrigued and as always with Ms. Ware's writing - surprised by the ending as well. Every twist and turn taken was necessary, and the characters were well-described and flawed as any person might be. 
Having read other books by this author before, she had a standard to uphold and I can confidently say that she has surpassed her previous books with this one. 
Anyone who reads mysteries and thrillers will know that a unique idea is hard to come by but somehow this idea is fresh and new and lends new life to the genre. 
Very well-written and extremely thought out, I would highly recommend this book.
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Harriet (Hal) is a young girl that has reached the end of her tether.  Her mother was killed in an auto accident.  There is very little money to support herself except for one thing.  Hal's mother had a small business on a  pier dedicated to fun and games for the public.  She told fortunes, in particular reading of Tarot cards, for people believing in those things.  When her mother was killed Hal had no recourse other than to take over the business and dedicate herself to the Tarot cards. She owes money all over the place and has even gotten herself into the clutches of a loan shark who has threatened her with violence if she doesn't pay a now very inflated sum of money.
     A mysterious letter inexplicably  is sent to her  with the notice that she has received a substantial inheritance.  Looking at the data on the letter Hal feels that she has no choice but to use her people skills acquired via the Tarot readings to try and collect the inheritance which she knows is not hers.  She soon finds herself at the funeral of the woman who has apparently made the bequest to her and immediately feels that there is something  very wrong with everything - the inheritance, the other people present who think that she is part of their family. But her decision is made - Continue!
     Ms Ware provides the reader with a memorizing feeling of continued suspense throughout the novel; a feeling that keeps one glued to the pages.  The characters are done very well, and Hal herself becomes a person that one roots for and entertains the hope that in spite of committing what would be a major crime  she will come out ahead and utilize what is happening to her as a method of bringing herself out of the situation she is in and move forward in her life.  Certainly Ruth Ware will be a force in the world of literature in the future with her books being sought out by an expanding group of followers.
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I enjoyed this book immensely. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time to figure out where  exactly it was taking me.  I enjoyed the exploration of the main character finding new family and enjoyed reading about all the characters back stories.  I also enjoyed how the book included both the past and the present as the tale unfolded.  This had a gothic, dark feel to it.  I remember reading Diane Setterfield's The 13th Tale and this gave me that same creepy vibe!  A definite must read.  I was disappointed with Ware's last book, so reading this made me very very happy!
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I was intrigued by the premise of this book and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The only character to really have any depth was the main protagonist. All of the other characters were one dimensional which took away from the potential of this being a more engaging mystery. The story was suspenseful at times but just seemed to plod along and go nowhere at certain points. I ultimately found the ending to be anti-climactic and a little disappointing so it ended up being an average read for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a complimentary digital review copy of this book.
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Ruth Ware has done it again. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is an un-put-downable tale of family turmoil, long-buried secrets, and deception that will keep you up at night, reading just one more chapter...until you've devoured the whole thing in one sitting. Ware gives us an appealing protagonist, shifty characters, a questionable will, and the de rigeur treacherous housekeeper all wrapped up in a brooding Cornish mansion right out of Agatha Christie. One of the best I've read this year. Highly recommended.
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Excellent book. Good premise and believable characters. Recommend this book.
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Holy cow, this is a great read. As always, I feel like the middle section of Ware’s books could be trimmed a bit because they tend to be repetitive, but I will totally forgive it this time. Hal is a protagonist that you care about and want to succeed. Thwarted at every turn, she desperately grasps at an improbable straw, hoping to escape the dangers and struggles of her life. She finds herself in a perplexing and ultimately, dangerous situation. Atmospheric, gothic, frightening, and mysterious...this book doesn’t disappoint. Thank you, NetGalley for my advance copy!
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