About the author: Ruth Ware is a pseudonym of Ruth Warburton.
- Laura “Lo” Blacklock, travel writer for Velocity (Cabin 9)
- Judah Lewis, Lo’s boyfriend
- Richard and Anne Bullmer, owners of The Aurora Borealis (Cabin 1)
- Ben Howard, reporter, Lo’s old flame (Cabin 8)
- Mystery woman (Cabin 10)
- Lars and Chloe Jenssen
- Cole Lederer, photographer
- Tina West, editor of Vernean Times, a “stone cold bitch” (Cabin 5)
- Archer Fenlan, travel writer (Cabin 7)
- Alexander Belhomme, travel writer (Cabin 6)
- Owen White, UK investor
- Johann Nilsson, head of security
Locale: UK and the North Sea
Synopsis: A number of travel writers are invited on the promotional maiden voyage of luxury yacht Aurora Borealis. The yacht has ten staterooms and will be in service between Norway and the UK. Writer Laura “Lo” Blacklock is to fill in for her editor, who is out on maternity leave.
A few nights prior to sailing, a burglar breaks into Lo’s apartment and she is slightly injured in confronting him. Another source of anxiety: her boyfriend, Judah, is torn between leaving her for a job in the US or staying in the UK.
The yacht would be full, but a last minute cancellation leaves cabin 10 vacant. However, Lo, in adjacent cabin 9, observes a young woman in cabin 10. That night Lo hears a splash from cabin 10, and sees that someone has gone over the side and into the sea. She raises the alarm, but no one believes her, as cabin 10 is supposedly vacant and a check of all aboard shows no one is missing.
Lo finds a couple pieces of evidence to support her story: the woman’s mascara tube (which disappears) and a photo in which she appears (which gets destroyed). Lo becomes paranoid as the killer may be after her, and may be related to the earlier break-in at her home. She tries to find the killer as the crew becomes increasing suspect.
Review: As other reviewers have noted, this is an excellent page-turner which urges the reader to start and finish in one sitting.
Suspense is built throughout by brief excerpts from the future prefacing each section, giving the reader hints of horrors to come.
The book gives good insight into the differences between the haves (the passengers) and the have-nots (the crew). It is an effective technique that the ship is filled not with the wealthy high-society future passengers, but middle class travel writers who are more relatable.
The theme of “I saw a murder, no one believes me, and now the killer is after me” reminds me of Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder" (and 1954 Hitchcock film based on it, titled Rear Window), 1959 Hitchcock film North by Northwest and even 1976 comedy/thriller Silver Streak.
The arrangement of the staterooms is significant to the story. The layout is described in text, but the reader may also find my sketch helpful:
The book also contains suggested discussion questions for book groups, and a preview chapter from The Lying Game.
I enjoyed the book and managed to break it into three readings.