The Woman in Cabin 10 wasn’t what I was expecting. I’ve read in the past about people who disappear from cruises never to be seen again, with very little investigation due to the jurisdiction issues of international waters. Ware’s book does touch on that briefly, but the vessel here is more of a grand yacht than a cruise liner, and the scale is much smaller and more intimate. The blurbs splashed all over the covers compare the book to Gone Girl (yawn, isn’t every thriller published post-2012?) and more surprisingly, Agatha Christie. I really didn’t expect to see shades of Christie in there, but I was pleasantly surprised that that rang true.
I thought that Ware’s debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, was a serviceable thriller – albeit nothing to shout about. The Woman in Cabin 10 is my favourite of the two, and our protagonist here is much more credible. We follow travel journalist Lo Blackwood onto a luxury Northern Lights cruise, set to chronicle its maiden voyage for her magazine. Except that Lo has recently suffered a burglary, hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep for days, and to top it all off witnesses a body being thrown overboard on her first night. So that’s the Tripadvisor rating shot then.
The limited number of passengers on board are what lends the book its element of Christie-esque drawing room mystery. I did find it hard to keep some of the characters straight in my mind – there are a few male passengers who essentially boiled down to ‘likes food’, ‘takes photographs’ etc. But this was the first mystery story in absolute eons that almost brought me to the point of jotting down alibis and clues and taking a shot at solving it myself.
The ending is ambiguous (I admittedly jumped straight onto Goodreads after finishing to see how others interpreted it – and I’d be interested to discuss it further with anyone who has thoughts on the matter!). Overall, The Woman In Cabin 10 is definitely a step up from In a Dark, Dark Wood, and frankly wins a million bonus points just by sheer merit of not being called The Girl In Cabin 10.
[Read from 6-10 May 2017]