Ruth Ware Continues to Impress

The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Ruth Ware

The fourth book by the extremely popular Ruth Ware is a twist on a classic mystery trope involving an inheritance/rags-to-riches fantasy. Harriet Westaway, the heroine of The Death of Mrs. Westaway, is isolated and adrift after losing her mother in a tragic accident.  She never learned her father’s identity-Harriet and her mother eked out a living by reading fortunes for tourists.  She retains their small boardwalk booth after her mother’s death, despite her disbelief in the practice. She feels like she is merely playing a role, appeasing her conscience by detaching herself from her clients’ gullibility.  On the brink of financial ruin and deeply in debt to some very dangerous characters, Harriet serendipitously receives a mysterious letter in the mail.  It appears that an error has been made, and she has been named an inheritor in a significant estate. She decides to see if she can use her honed perception skills to claim what she hopes will be enough to save her from her collectors. She travels to the funeral of the deceased and upon being embraced by her kind “relatives,” Harriet feels torn between her desperation and guilt. It turns out that the inheritance is far more complicated than she imagined, and she is drawn into some old conflicts and family secrets.  Harriet begins to question how long she can sustain her charade, and if the prize is worth the constant vigilance and paranoia of discovery.  Harriet is not the only person hiding something at Trepassen, and questions start emerging about her own possible connection to these other Westaways.  Fans of both classic mystery and literary fiction would enjoy this book, especially those looking to avoid explicit violence and gore. The novel is very atmospheric and wonderfully paced, with three-dimensional characters written with complexity and nuance.  The resolution is unpredictable but believable, twisting in a truly satisfying way.  The Death of Mrs. Westaway continues the high-quality work that readers have come to expect from Ware’s books, and is further evidence that her popularity is well-deserved.