Monday, May 6, 2019
Published May 2018 by Gallery/Scout Press
Source: checked out from my local library
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased...where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
Maureen Corrigan, of The Washington Post, called this book "superb." Kirkus Review says it is "expertly crafted." Lisa says "if I gave books grades, I'd give this one a B-." That's right, you heard me, I'm saying Maureen Corrigan has overpraised The Death of Mrs. Westaway.
Apparently Ms. Corrigan missed the bit where Ware three times said that Hal was using an item as a shield in front of her. Once, sure. Twice, ok, I'll let you get away with that. Three times? Now it feels like you're struggling to come up with new ways to explain things. Is that a niggling little thing? Yes, it is. But it's not the only niggling little thing that colored my impression of this book. Hal has found herself struggling financially since her mother died, to the point where she turned to a loan shark. Mind you, Hal is doing the same job that her mother used to do which supported the two of them so I wasn't clear on why Hal wasn't able to support just one person doing the same thing. And it felt a bit like the loan shark was too easy a tool to explain why Hal chose to try to claim an inheritance she knew she wasn't entitled to having. Also, why does Hal continue to use the scary attic room at Trepassen when she wouldn't need to use it? And I thought the final showdown played a bit like one of those movie scenes that improbably goes on and on until you just want someone to die and get it over with.
You'll have noticed, though, that I still gave this book a B-, which would seem to indicate that I found more good than bad with The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I did. It feels gothic and old-fashioned - an eerie house filled with secrets, a Mrs. Danver's like housekeeper, a bickering family, and lots of dark and dreary weather. Hal is a great character - edgy but someone you really care about. I did not solve the mystery (although, I did have a suspicion about a part of it which turned out to be correct). I enjoyed the way the clues evolved and the way that Hal used what she'd been taught by her mother as a means of putting everything together. I seriously could not put the book down and found myself wishing I had it on both audio and in print to I could keep reading it no matter where I was at. No doubt about it, Ware writes a compelling mystery that pulls readers through her books. Now I just need to find my copy of her debut novel, In A Dark, Dark Wood.