Reviewed Sep. 2018
Narrator: Imogen Church
Length: 14 hours 14 minutes
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2018
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From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel.
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.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an addictive thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
The Audiobookworm's Review
Rating: 4.25 Stars
4.25★ Audiobook⎮The Death of Mrs. Westaway was my introduction to Ruth Ware. I was intrigued by the comparisons to Agatha Christie and, after having completed this novel, I can confidently agree with them. At times, it seemed like Ruth Ware did Agatha Christie better than Agatha Christie.
That may be a slightly exaggeration, but it was based on my feelings while listening to The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I got into this story so quickly that it was almost like I had heard it before. Ware’s writing evoked a sense of familiarity that was instantly comforting. It took no effort at all to slip into the story and be carted off.
If anything, I think The Death of Mrs. Westaway may have been slightly easier to follow been anything written by Christie. That could be due to slight modernizations of speech and setting. However, such modernizations were not overtly obtrusive to the story. They subconsciously oriented the listener without sacrificing anything from Ware’s writing style, which clearly hearkened back to Agatha Christie’s.
However, I’m baffled as to why this audiobook was so easy to hear. I couldn’t describe the writing as simplistic or concise, yet it seemed almost “laid back”, for lack of a better phrase. Ware’s descriptions weren’t necessarily detailed, but they were explained at length. Perhaps, if Agatha Christie had written this, it would have only been a three or four hour production. I did notice that The Death of Mrs. Westaway seemed to drag on, but not necessarily in an unpleasant way.
In the past, I have been somewhat frustrated by the brisk and seemingly abrupt resolutions penned by Agatha Christie. By contrast, Ware took her time building up to several different revelations, providing adequate explanations, and dealing with their fallouts. On the whole, I think Ware’s method is far more satisfying. However, it may not appeal to certain readers who wish for her to “get on with it”.
In the end, I was grateful that Ware went the extra mile in explaining the “whodunit”. The mystery was so intricate that I had about 10 different theories formulating in my mind at any given time and it wound up being a combination of nearly all of them. This was very much a “show” not “tell” story, with clues being dropped along like breadcrumbs. It was very considerate of Ruth Ware to tie things up so nicely.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway was a very “rainy autumn day” type of listen. It wasn’t exactly scary, but the suspense was practically palpable. I’m pleased to have discovered Ruth Ware right here on the cusp of autumn. I’m sure I’ll be hearing much more of her in the next three months.
Narration review: Imogen Church absolutely killed it. She killed it, y’all. Hats off to her, seriously. She really brought it with the character distinctions. More than once I thought, “This is one woman doing all of these voices!”.The Death of Mrs. Westaway was one of those books that could easily have tripped up a less skilled narrator. Several of the characters were of a similar demographic and she could have easily phoned it in with one “snooty middle-aged British guy” voice. But no, Church provided clear distinctions between all four of them, even though three of them were brothers. I can’t tell you how much this helped in my listening experience. It’s like the difference between driving with and without a map.
Despite having her on my radar for quite sometime now, this was my first audiobook from Imogen Church. But it certainly won’t be my last. I think I’m more excited to tear through her list of audiobooks and than I am Ruth Ware’s. This is going to be an awesome Fall for audiobook listening. ♣︎