After The Stormby Deepa Gahlot December 27 2018, 12:07 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 34 secs
The heroine of best-selling author Ruth Ware’s Death of Mrs Westaway, is the feisty Hal, who thinks on her feet. Her twisty-turny story is not diluted with needless romance or other diversions; this is a solid Gothic suspense novel, and the reader discovers the mystery of Hal’s past along with her, as she stumbles on clues.
Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway is in dire straits. Her mother died suddenly in a hit-and-run accident, and the 21-year-old has no money and no prospects. She makes a precarious living as a tarot reader on a touristy pier in Brighton, and when the novel opens on a stormy night, gets a threatening letter from a loan shark. There is also strange missive from a lawyer promising her a legacy from her grandmother’s recent death in Cornwall. Hal is puzzled because her grandparents died years ago.
The Death of Mrs Westaway and author Ruth Ware
A visit from the loan shark’s thug casually wrecking her kiosk and talking of broken bones, makes Hal spend her last bit of cash on a ticket to the village, where she hopes to be able to bluff her way through the inevitable interrogation by the other members of the Westaway family and their lawyer.
After the funeral, she is taken to the cold, stone mansion, Trepassen House, infested with raucous magpies and without central heating, where a scary housekeeper, Mrs Warren (soul sister of Rebecca’s Mrs Danvers), installs her in a freezing attic room, that looks and feels like a prison cell.
The Westaway family consists of three brothers, their partners and kids, and a missing sister, Maud, whose daughter Hal is assumed to be, but knows she is not. She hopes that if she is caught out, she will get away pretending it was a case of mistaken identity. She also hopes, she will receive a small bequest that will help her pay off her debts and manage for a few months. But what happens next, throws her completely off balance—first literally, as she faints from cold, damp, hunger and stress, and then gobsmacked when old Mrs Westaway’s will is read out.
She realizes that she has some connection with the family, more so when there is an attempt to kill her. Mrs Warren warns her to get out, and at least one of the Westaway men is not at all happy with the terms of the will. Ruth Ware expertly builds up layers of suspense; Hal’s story is interspersed with that of a young woman who was locked up in the very attic where Ruth finds herself, and scratched “Help Me” on the glass.
As the plot thickens and things get more dangerous for Hel, she turns out to belong to the new list of young women who are in distress, but do not wait for a prince to rescue them.
The Death of Mrs Westaway
By Ruth Ware
Publisher: Simon & Schuster