There is something fascinating about cruise ship disappearances. How can a person simply vanish while at sea and never be seen again? That is the premise of Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10, or so it seems at first.
Laura “Lo” Blacklock is a travel journalist who has worked for Velocity magazine for the past ten years. When she is given a week long assignment aboard a luxury cruise liner making its maiden voyage across the Norwegian fjords, she sees it as an opportunity to put Velocity on the map and boost her career.
The first night aboard, Lo is woken up from her sleep by a scream and the sound of a body being thrown overboard. Thinking a murder has been committed, she runs to the neighbouring cabin to warn the woman staying there. But apart from a smear of blood on a door, she finds the cabin empty. Security staff are alerted and a search of cabin 10 is conducted. It is still empty, but the blood has mysteriously gone. Furthermore, all the crew and passengers are accounted for and there was no one checked into the cabin in the first place. But how could that be, Lo had seen and spoken to the woman earlier that night. Instead of networking and reporting on the luxuries of the cruise liner, Lo becomes obsessed with proving that someone on board has killed the woman in cabin 10.
Ware creates the perfect chilling and atmospheric setting for a whodunit mystery. A small number of passengers stuck on board, with limited connection to the outside world and a killer on the loose. We feel as trapped as Lo is.
The story does start off slowly, with descriptive passages highlighting the grandeur of the cruise liner and introductions to each of the nine passengers on board. But the pace picks up as we follow every twist and turn in Lo’s quest to find answers. Interspersed amongst the chapters are clever social media extracts, such as Facebook status updates and posts from an armchair sleuthing forum, to keep us guessing right until the end.
The Woman in Cabin 10 was a quick yet engrossing read. Readers who enjoyed The Girl on the Train will be similarly glued to its pages.
I may have to rethink any future cruise ship holidays.