Harriet Westaway, better known as Hal, finds herself down on her luck. She’s a Brighton Pier tarot card reader who is behind on her rent and owes money to less than reputable men, and then add to her situation the fact that her mother was rundown in a horrific auto accident three years prior. When she’s about to reach her lowest, Hal receives a mysterious letter in the mail from a lawyer representing her grandmother in Cornwall, who has recently passed away. A promise of an inheritance dangled in front of her, Hal feels relieved that some of her money issues might be alleviated.
However, there is one small thing: Hal’s grandparents died years before and she has no clue who this Mrs. Westaway could be.
With her perceptive skills as a tarot reader, Hal packs her bag and hops a train for the Cornish estate with the intent of misleading the Westaway family into believing she is one of their own.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is Ruth Ware’s fourth novel and with her newest addition, the author keeps getting better. She channels the spirit of an Agatha Christie novel: estranged members of a wealthy family are recalled to their childhood estate, each with a complicated opinion of their late mother. They are isolated with a cranky housekeeper named Mrs. Warren who might be just as old as the house itself, plus foreboding warnings, and bad weather and circumstances that keep drawing Hal back to the home every time she tries to get away. Ware ramps up the tension as Hal attempts to hide her true identity from the Westaway clan while digging for truths and clarity that she didn’t even know she was looking for. It would be easy to say that layers of mystery are peeled away, but Ware offers something much more: a maze with crooked halls and unknown corners. With The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ware doesn’t disappoint. It is a novel that will pull you in with its enigmatic charm and intriguing mysteries.