INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER
FROM THE AUTHOR OF IN A DARK, DARK WOOD
Featured in TheSkimm
An Entertainment Weekly “Summer Must List” Pick
A New York Post “Summer Must-Read” Pick
Included in Summer Book Guides from Bustle, Oprah.com, PureWow, and USA TODAY
From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.
In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.
Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language, and a press officer, and is the internationally bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game. She is married with two small children. Visit her at RuthWare.com or follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter.
The Woman in Cabin 10
- CHAPTER 1 -
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
The first inkling that something was wrong was waking in darkness to find the cat pawing at my face. I must have forgotten to shut the kitchen door last night. Punishment for coming home drunk.
“Go away,” I groaned. Delilah mewed and butted me with her head. I tried to bury my face in the pillow but she continued rubbing herself against my ear, and eventually I rolled over and heartlessly pushed her off the bed.
She thumped to the floor with an indignant little meep and I pulled the duvet over my head, but even through the covers I could hear her scratching at the bottom of the door, rattling it in its frame.
The door was closed.
I sat up, my heart suddenly thumping, and Delilah leaped onto my bed with a glad little chirrup, but I snatched her to my chest, stilling her movements, listening.
I might well have forgotten to shut the kitchen door, or I could even have knocked it to without closing it properly. But my bedroom door opened outward—a quirk of the weird layout of my flat. There was no way Delilah could have shut herself inside. Someone must have closed it.
I sat, frozen, holding Delilah’s warm, panting body against my chest and trying to listen.
And then, with a gush of relief, it occurred to me—she’d probably been hiding under my bed and I’d shut her inside with me when I came home. I didn’t remember closing my bedroom door, but I might have swung it absently shut behind me when I came in. To be honest, everything from the tube station onwards was a bit of a blur. The headache had started to set in on the journey home, and now that my panic was wearing off, I could feel it starting up again in the base of my skull. I really needed to stop drinking midweek. It had been okay in my twenties, but I just couldn’t shake off the hangovers like I used to.
Delilah began squirming uneasily in my arms, digging her claws into my forearm, and I let her go while I reached for my dressing gown and belted it around myself. Then I scooped her up, ready to sling her out into the kitchen.
But when I opened the bedroom door, there was a man standing there.
There’s no point in wondering what he looked like, because, believe me, I went over it about twenty-five times with the police. “Not even a bit of skin around his wrists?” they kept saying. No, no, and no. He had a hoodie on, and a bandanna around his nose and mouth, and everything else was in shadow. Except for his hands.
On these he was wearing latex gloves. It was that detail that scared the shit out of me. Those gloves said, “I know what I’m doing.” They said, “I’ve come prepared.” They said, “I might be after more than your money.”
We stood there for a long second, facing each other, his shining eyes locked on to mine.
About a thousand thoughts raced through my mind: Where the hell is my phone? Why did I drink so much last night? I would have heard him come in if I’d been sober. Oh Christ, I wish Judah was here.
And most of all—those gloves. Oh my God, those gloves. They were so professional. So clinical.
I didn’t speak. I didn’t move. I just stood there, my ratty dressing gown gaping, and I shook. Delilah wriggled out of my unresisting hands and shot away up the hallway to the kitchen, and I just stood there, shaking.
Please, I thought. Please don’t hurt me.
Oh God, where was my phone?
Then I saw something in the man’s hands. My handbag—my new Burberry handbag, although that detail seemed monumentally unimportant. There was only one thing that mattered about that bag. My mobile was inside.
His eyes crinkled in a way that made me think he might be smiling beneath the bandanna, and I felt the blood drain from my head and my fingers, pooling in the core of my body, ready to fight or flee, whichever it had to be.
He took a step forwards.
“No . . .” I said. I wanted it to sound like a command, but it came out like a plea—my voice small and squeaky and quavering pathetically with fear. “N—”
But I didn’t even get to finish. He slammed the bedroom door in my face, hitting my cheek.
For a long moment I stood, frozen, holding my hand to my face, speechless with the shock and pain. My fingers felt ice-cold, but there was something warm and wet on my face, and it took a moment for me to realize it was blood, that the molding on the door had cut my cheek.
I wanted to run back to bed, to shove my head under the pillows and cry and cry. But a small, ugly voice in my skull kept saying, He’s still out there. What if he comes back? What if he comes back for you?
There was a sound from out in the hall, something falling, and I felt a rush of fear that should have galvanized me but instead paralyzed me. Don’t come back. Don’t come back. I realized I was holding my breath, and I made myself exhale, long and shuddering, and then slowly, slowly, I forced my hand out towards the door.
There was another crash in the hallway outside, breaking glass, and with a rush I grabbed the knob and braced myself, my bare toes dug into the old, gappy floorboards, ready to hold the door closed as long as I could. I crouched there, against the door, hunched over with my knees to my chest, and I tried to muffle my sobs with my dressing gown while I listened to him ransacking the flat and hoped to God that Delilah had run out into the garden, out of harm’s way.
At last, after a long time, I heard the front door open and shut, and I sat there, crying into my knees and unable to believe he’d really gone. That he wasn’t coming back to hurt me. My hands felt numb and painfully stiff, but I didn’t dare let go of the handle.
I saw again those strong hands in the pale latex gloves.
I don’t know what would have happened next. Maybe I would have stayed there all night, unable to move. But then I heard Delilah outside, mewing and scratching at the other side of the door.
“Delilah,” I said hoarsely. My voice was trembling so much I hardly sounded like myself. “Oh, Delilah.”
Through the door I heard her purr, the familiar, deep, chainsaw rasp, and it was like a spell had been broken.
I let my cramped fingers loosen from the doorknob, flexing them painfully, and then stood up, trying to steady my trembling legs, and turned the door handle.
It turned. In fact it turned too easily, twisting without resistance under my hand, without moving the latch an inch. He’d removed the spindle from the other side.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I was trapped.
In Ware’s underwhelming sophomore mystery (after 2015’s In a Dark, Dark Wood), Laura “Lo” Blacklock thinks stepping in for her pregnant boss for a week-long jaunt on the new miniature cruise ship Aurora will give her a leg up at Velocity, the magazine where she’s toiled for years. A break-in at her London flat days before her departure does little more than set up Lo as an easily startled protagonist. Everything on the Aurora is sparkly and decadent, from the chandeliers to the wealthy guests, most of whom are either fellow travel writers or investors brought on by owner Lord Richard Bullmer, but Lo is distracted from the scenery—the ship is headed for a tour of the Norwegian fjords—by her certainty that she heard the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the water from the adjacent cabin. No one, unsurprisingly, believes her, or buys her story of a mysterious woman she saw lurking on the ship hours earlier. Those expecting a Christie-style locked-room mystery at sea will be disappointed. Agent: Eve White, Eve White Literary (U.K.). (July)
"Ruth Ware is back with her second hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-tingling tale."Marie Claire
"[The Woman in Cabin 10] generate[s] a dark, desperate tension that will appeal to Ware’s and Gillian Flynn’s many fans. This is the perfect summer read for those seeking a shadowy counter to the sunshine."Starred Review Booklist
“A fantasy trip aboard a luxury liner turns nightmarish for a young journalist in The Woman in Cabin 10, the pulse-quickening new novel by Ruth Ware, author of In a Dark, Dark Wood.”O Magazine
"[A] snappy thriller set on the high seas... The first chapter will grab your attention, force it against a wall and hold it there until the end.”Associated Press Staff
"Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 is an atmospheric thriller as twisty and tension-filled as her 2015 debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood... The novel’s tone is dark and claustrophobic as Lo continues her search for the woman even though someone is trying to stop her — maybe even kill her."The Washington Post
"If you're a fan of Agatha Christie, get ready to curl up with this suspenseful mystery."Bustle
"Haunting and absurdly suspenseful."PureWow
"A great modern whodunit!"New York Post
“Ruth Ware’s thrilling suspense novel captivates.”US Weekly
"The Woman in Cabin 10 bucks the trend of disappointing follow-ups, and is every bit as taut and provocative as the earlier book."Independent
"With a flawed but likeable heroine, and a fast moving plot, it makes for a stylish thriller."Sunday Mirror
“A twisted and suspenseful mystery that entangles friendship, identity and memory with a possible murder.... Subtly tips its hat to authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers”Metro
“With a churning plot worthy of Agatha Christie, and fresh on the heels of her bestselling thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware twists the wire on readers’ nerves once again. “Cabin 10” just may do to cruise vacations what “Jaws” did to ocean swimming. You’ll be afraid to go out on the water.”StarTribune
"This beach read thriller has sun, suspense, and goes well with SPF."TheSkimm
"Ware does something more than write the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, even if she writes in that wheelhouse. Ware puts her own stamp on the genre... The Woman in Cabin 10 is good: it’s creepy, it’s frustrating, and it’s interesting. It brings elements of our current fixations into the realm of the thriller/mystery in the best possible way."Electric Literature
"With a churning plot worthy of Agatha Christie, and fresh on the heels of her bestselling thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware twists the wire on readers’ nerves once again. “Cabin 10” just may do to cruise vacations what “Jaws” did to ocean swimming."Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Ware's propulsive prose keeps readers on the hook and refuses to let anyone off until all has been revealed."Shelf Awareness
Named by the Washington Post as "One of the best mystery books and thrillers of 2016"From the Publisher
"No one does spooky without the supernatural element better than Ruth Ware, and The Woman in Cabin 10 is proof for any who doubt it."New York Journal of Books
"Lots of twists and surprises in an old-fashioned mystery."Thrillist - R.L. Stine
★ 06/15/2016Library Journal
Travel journalist Laura "Lo" Blacklock receives a press pass for a weeklong cruise from London to the Norwegian fjords. Despite the ship's opulence and lavish amenities for the nine passengers, Lo finds her stay far from relaxing. On the first evening aboard, she witnesses a woman being thrown overboard. But her claims are quickly dismissed by the ship's crew as all the passengers are accounted for. Lo's desire to chronicle the liner's maiden voyage for her magazine is quickly overshadowed by her obsession with solving the mystery, regardless of the lack of evidence of foul play. With few potential suspects and little support from the others on board, Lo continues digging for answers. Her relentless quest for the truth despite warnings to stop, entangles her in a web of deception and danger. VERDICT Ware's follow-up to her best-selling debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, is a gripping maritime psychological thriller that will keep readers spellbound. The intense final chapters just might induce heart palpitations.—Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Ware (In A Dark, Dark Wood, 2015) offers up a classic "paranoid woman" story with a modern twist in this tense, claustrophobic mystery. Days before departing on a luxury cruise for work, travel journalist Lo Blacklock is the victim of a break-in. Though unharmed, she ends up locked in her own room for several hours before escaping; as a result, she is unable to sleep. By the time she comes onboard the Aurora, Lo is suffering from severe sleep deprivation and possibly even PTSD, so when she hears a big splash from the cabin next door in the middle of the night, "the kind of splash made by a body hitting water," she can't prove to security that anything violent has actually occurred. To make matters stranger, there's no record of any passenger traveling in the cabin next to Lo's, even though Lo herself saw a woman there and even borrowed makeup from her before the first night's dinner party. Reeling from her own trauma, and faced with proof that she may have been hallucinating, Lo continues to investigate, aided by her ex-boyfriend Ben (who's also writing about the cruise), fighting desperately to find any shred of evidence that she may be right. The cast of characters, their conversations, and the luxurious but confining setting all echo classic Agatha Christie; in fact, the structure of the mystery itself is an old one: a woman insists murder has occurred, everyone else says she's crazy. But Lo is no wallflower; she is a strong and determined modern heroine who refuses to doubt the evidence of her own instincts. Despite this successful formula, and a whole lot of slowly unraveling tension, the end is somehow unsatisfying. And the newspaper and social media inserts add little depth. Too much drama at the end detracts from a finely wrought and subtle conundrum.