Harvill Secker London
Review by Lesley Vick
This was meant to be the perfect trip. The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship. A chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic breakdown. Except things don’t go as planned.
Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked in to that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.
Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face up to the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or is she trapped on board a boat with a murdered – and she is the sole witness…
Review by Lesley Vick
Hmmm. Another book partly inspired it seems by The Girl on the Train. I am not a fan of the latter but the setting in the book under review is at least quite inventive and I was prepared to suspend my apprehension.
Lo Blacklock needs medication to deal with her anxiety (how unreliable does this make her as a narrator?) and a break in at her apartment has compounded her condition just as she gets the chance to revive her career as a travel writer. She has also had a serious quarrel with her current boyfriend.
Nevertheless she sets off on the cruise so she can write about the luxury liner Aurora which has only ten cabins, a maximum of twenty passengers and a significant crew to pamper the passengers. Awoken by a scream and a splash from the cabin next door plus blood on the balcony Lo reports a likely missing passenger – a woman Lo had briefly encountered earlier.
But then a nightmare begins. No-one had been booked into cabin 10 and no-one among the passengers and staff is missing once a check has been carried out. Lo had been drinking before the incident and this erodes the credibility of her story even further so her claims are regarded with suspicion by everyone else on board.
Lo’s sense of reality becomes uncertain even to her and her interaction with a former boyfriend who is somewhat implausibly also on board the liner adds to the drama. The buildup of suspense in the first part of the book is well done but Lo is a very annoying person and extraordinarily stupid at times and some of the random events in the book are quite unconvincing. The resolution of the mystery is disappointing but Ruth Ware writes well and with a more believable protagonist and plot she could undoubtedly produce a very good book.