THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 Review: Dame Agatha Would Approve

Ruth Ware takes a page from mystery's greatest novelist.

Without knowing much about Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10, it seems an easy jump to assume it's inspired by Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train, which itself seems inspired by any of Gillian Flynn's incomparable work.

But The Woman in Cabin 10 hearkens back further, with a distinct Agatha Christie influence that is quite welcome among all of the recent Flynn acolytes. Ware takes advantage of two locations, a limited number of suspects and a very tight narrative to bring forth a perfect little mystery unencumbered by unnecessary plot detours or obvious red herrings. Ware's protagonist is, unlike Christie's, not a detective but a journalist, but she is as determined to solve the mystery of the missing woman from Cabin 10 as any egg-headed Belgian or elderly spinster could be. 

Lo Blacklock is a low-level travel writer for Velocity magazine, and she's about to get her big break thanks to her supervisor's maternity leave. Lo's invited on the maiden voyage of the Aurora, a boutique luxury cruise liner with only ten cabins for the choosiest of clientele. But two nights before her trip, a burglar breaks into Lo's flat while she's sleeping. She's injured and traumatized by the event, and her first moments on the Aurora are marked with panic and paranoia. But Lo knows herself, and knows better than to doubt her instincts when a woman goes missing - a woman that every other person on the ship claims was never there. 

Although this is a pretty fat-free mystery in the Christie vein, Ware delves with clever sensitivity into Lo's anxiety disorder and depression. She's been taught to mistrust herself for years, and her recent trauma has only worsened her feelings of ineptitude and disquiet. But Lo's tough and she's smart, and she's determined to find the truth, even if everyone around her doubts her.

It's an effective combo, deft mystery met with emotional depth, and it makes for a great, quick read. Reese Witherspoon has signed on to adapt Ware's previous novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, and The Woman in Cabin 10 feels extremely ripe for adaptation, itself. Read it first!