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A Modern Gothic

October 1, 2018

Kerry Pettis Bookwoman

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

This is a suspense mystery novel with the feel of Jane Eyre. All the elements are there: a crumbling English manor house, a creepy housekeeper, strange relatives, and a young woman with a troubled past. The only difference is that this novel is set in modern times.

Harriet (Hal) Westaway is struggling to make ends meet in Brighton Beach, working as a tarot card reader on the boardwalk. She is in trouble with a loan shark and has begun to despair for her life.

Unexpectedly, she gets a letter from an attorney saying that she has been named in her “grandmother’s” will. But she is unaware of any such relative. However, she needs the money and decides to see how far she can go in bluffing her way into some funds.

After the funeral, where she tries to scope out her new “relatives,” the family is informed by the lawyer that the bulk of the estate has been left to Hal. She is as amazed as the rest and now feels torn between telling the truth — she’s not related at all — and attempting to fake her way through the situation.

Naturally, there are complications within complications. As Hal learns more about the past, the true nature of her family history is slowly revealed. Author Ruth Ware has done a masterful job of hiding the real facts till the end of the book.

Kerry Pettis is a retired elementary school teacher and children’s librarian who has lived in Broomfield since 1975. Reading is her favorite occupation.

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