When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…
The Death of Mrs Westaway is, in my opinion, Ruth Ware’s best book yet. It is part gothic mystery, part psychological thriller, part whodunit and part whatisgoingon!
I found Hal to be a very sympathetic character – she’s grieving, she’s torn about how she makes a living but she’s trying to do her best. I found the descriptions of the tarot deck and her cold reading techniques fascinating. It was a bit like watching Hustle – you know she’s doing something unethical, probably illegal, but you’re still cheering her on to succeed throughout the book.
The supporting cast of characters are all well drawn and each brings something crucial to the narrative. The story itself is brilliantly plotted, running back and forth in time with dual narrations, allowing a complex web of secrets, lies and tragedy to be gradually exposed and some great twists to surprise you.
The locations are all very atmospheric, from cold, wet and windy Brighton and Hal’s small flat to gloomy, run down, forbidding Trepassen House, with its creepy rooms, grounds and lake. I could clearly picture it all and could see The Death of Mrs Westaway making a great mini series.
I loved this book and am hugely grateful to NetGalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for the ARC of The Death of Mrs Westaway.