Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

05.29.2018 | Scout Press
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Hal has received a mysterious letter requesting her presence at a grand estate which she has never heard of before. It appears this letter has been sent to the wrong person, but with a promise of a lofty inheritance, Hal is willing to risk taking a chance and responding. When Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased she discovers that this family has more than a few odd quirks. There is something very wrong about this situation and Hal may not be the only person with a guilty conscience.

I have been a fan of Ruth Ware’s writing for many years, but somehow managed to let THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY creep down my TBR. What a terrible mistake on my part!


THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY focuses on our main character of Hal, who has decided to respond to a letter of inheritance that has arrived in her name. It seems someone got it massively wrong when they deduced she was a relative of the deceased, but Hal is down on her luck and willing to take a chance. I immediately was intrigued by Hal as our main character and narrator. She is a tarot card reader barely getting by who seems to be in debt to the wrong crowd. There is something instantly calming about Hal in the way she seems very real with all of her reactions amongst many different situations. The realistic qualities that Ware gives Hal make her an easy narrator to bond with and thus become invested in the story as a whole.

Joining Hal is a cast of characters I would easily describe as shady or dishonest. It appears everyone related to the late Mrs. Westaway has a secret or two that they don’t want the rest of the family to know about. Hal clearly has some connection to these people, despite it not being the one they all think, but their relationships are instantly put at odds over the inheritance in question. I loved the dynamics between all of the characters in this novel. I thought that for secondary characters, Ware truly took the time to fully form their storylines and importance in relation to Hal.


My favorite part of reading a novel by Ruth Ware is her ability to transform the location or setting of her stories into a vital character in their own respect. The Westaway estate that Hal finds herself at gives this novel a delicious Gothic vibe that truly ups the creep factor. There are old rooms, poor lighting, and creepy abandoned buildings on the property that made the book feel a bit like a movie for me. I loved the claustrophobic feelings of being on this property gave me while reading. I could feel Hal unease, which really added to the suspense of this story.

THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY is perfect for crime fiction readers looking for a story that gives a solid nod to the older noir novels of the genre. This is definitely a must read for Ware and mystery fans alike!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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