It was perfectly fine! But I still don’t get the Ruth Ware obsession that some people have.
Our “It Girl” is April Coutts-Cliveden, who is murdered her freshman year at Oxford, and who had “that thing”. The main character and narrator is her roommate and “best friend”, Hannah, who has experienced ten years of PTSD and harassment from journalists and the public because she was the one who found April’s body, and it was her testimony that sealed the conviction of the murderer, John Neville, a creepy Oxford porter who had boundary issues with the beautiful young girls on the campus, including Hannah. The book opens with Neville’s death in prison, and a reporter coming to Hannah with the claim that Neville was in fact innocent, as he long claimed. The doubts she’s been experiencing for years grow larger in her mind. Hannah is also pregnant, and married to Will, who was April’s boyfriend at the time of her murder.
Nothing about this was particularly creative or mind-blowing. It’s just a pretty standard mystery, in my opinion, and not one that does the things that I prefer. It felt kind of long, and I didn’t like the characters. The most interesting part for me were two tertiary characters: the reporter trying to find the truth of who murdered April, and April’s grown baby sister, November, who is barely in the book at all. Hannah was fine, I guess. But I was never compelled or truly liked any of the main players, which is a big issue when your book doesn’t rest on an investigation and shocking twists and turns at every corner. This is a character mystery, and Hannah’s arc is the center, right along with April’s complicated self, whose death has metamorphosed her into the beautiful girl whose life was tragically cut short, while we as readers see very clearly that April was really kind of an asshole. This was another problem I had, that Hannah seemed to like her so much, when everyone else just kind of put up with her because she was such a forceful personality and had too much influence that she liked to throw around (very wealthy parents).
The end of the book and the resolution of the mystery very much held my attention, but getting there was a little bit of a chore at times. I’m going to give Ruth Ware exactly two more chances. Two, because I already own an audio version of One By One that is too old to return for credit, and because the premise of The Death of Mrs. Westaway sounds really intriguing to me and my specific interests. If those are both three stars (or lower, yeesh) I will be done with this author.
If you’re looking for a smooth mystery/thriller that will satisfy but not blow your mind, this book would do, I would say unless you’re a Ruth Ware stan, just don’t go in with super high expectations and you’ll be fine.