Tuesday, August 9, 2016

On the Shelf at Paragraphs - Ruth Ware

I was introduced to the writing of novelist Ruth Ware at the 2015 Book Expo America – the Super Bowl of publishing. Her debut thriller “In a Dark, Dark Wood” was receiving lots of buzz in the industry and after picking up a copy I was quickly absorbed in the eerie and suspense-filled story.

In her late 20s, Leonora is a crime writer. She’s perfectly content with her adult life of guarded and precise routines. That is, until she accepts an invitation to attend the bachelorette weekend of her former best friend, Clare, in a remote, off-the-grid house in the snow-covered woods. It was Clare who had helped Leonora through the most horrible time in her life—when something happened to her high-school sweetheart, James. Clare had helped Leonora out of that mess when James sent that text telling her to never talk to him again. Leonora owes Claire, doesn’t she? But why, after 10 years without a word, has Clare suddenly invited Lenora to attend her bachelorette weekend? After all, she wasn’t even invited to the actual wedding. But as Leonora and those who know Clare best know, it’s all about Clare and what Clare wants. And Clare doesn’t want anything—or anyone—to interfere with her wedding, which is to none other than James.

"In a Dark, Dark Wood" opens in a hospital room, where a young woman wakes with contusions, scratches and a woeful head injury. Worse than her physical state, she is afflicted by memory loss and a nagging sense of guilt. She sees uniformed policemen stationed outside her room. "What happened?" she asks herself. Close upon the heels of that thought comes another one: "What have I done?"
Horrific images stab into her brain: "I am running through moonlit woods, with branches ripping at my clothes and my feet catching in the snow-bowed bracken." She recalls a road, the roar of a car engine, headlamps. Calling out "Stop!" Then, nothing. 

It's an arresting beginning. Past-tense chapters of the weekend in question then alternate with the present-day narration of recovery as Leonora attempts to piece together what happened during the bachelorette weekend. But she can’t remember everything. And what she does remember, she wishes that she didn’t.

“In a Dark, Dark Wood” received high praise after its release in 2015. Listed as an NPR Best Book of the Year, an Entertainment Weekly Summer Books Pick, and as one of the Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers by Publishers Weekly, it has just been released in paperback and should earn a place in your beach bag.
Gallery/Scout Press, 352 pages, ISBN 9781501112331, Trade Paperback, April 2016

Ware’s second novel, “The Woman in Cabin 10,” released in July, is a tightly wound 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 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…

Gallery/Scout Press, 352 pages, ISBN 9781501132933, Hardcover, July 2016

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