The Woman in Cabin 10

water spray on a ship's porthole window
Ruth Ware
Saturday, Jun 24, 2017

In this latest novel from Ruth Ware, travel writer Lo Blacklock gets the opportunity of a lifetime to go on the maiden voyage of the Aurora, a luxury cruise ship. Days before, however, a break-in at her flat while she is home leaves her rattled and shaken. Lo settles in to her cabin to get ready for a formal dinner the first night, only to discover she's got no mascara--it was in her purse when it was stolen. She decides to borrow some from another passenger, goes next door, and meets her neighbor, a mysterious woman who seems in a hurry to get rid of her. Throughout the dinner, Lo tries her best to socialize, but drinks a bit too much and struggles to find the confidence to schmooze her way over to the ship's owner, Richard Bullmer. She sees no sign of her neighbor, which seems odd. After the evening's festivities, Lo makes her way back to her room, but wakes in the middle of the night. She hears a noise--next door's balcony door sliding open, and a splash. She rushes out to her own balcony, but sees no one. She sees blood, or what looks like blood to Lo, on the glass railing. She reports the events in the morning, but discovers that the room next door has no one staying in it--it's been left unoccupied.

So who was the woman who lent Lo the mascara? What made the noise, and the smear on the glass--a smear that is gone by the time security arrives? Everything Lo does casts doubts on her insistence that something happened, so much so that she begins to doubt her own recollections. She had a break-in before she came, she had a fight with her boyfriend, she has been drinking--everything casts aspersions on her story. Interspersed with chapters told by Lo are emails being sent out by Lo's boyfriend back home. They too lead the reader to question what is happening on board the Aurora.

I found The Woman in Cabin 10 to be enjoyable and suspenseful, but not a favorite. It's a good, quick read. Like so many psychosocial thrillers, the story relies too heavily on the main character constantly doubting and questioning her experiences and memories in order to create suspense.

Hilary S.

Written by Hilary S.

Fun fact: I'm positive I'm a louder librarian than Mary S.