Catching Up: Darkside by Belinda Bauer & The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Once more I’m behind with reviews of some of the books I’ve read in the past few weeks, so here are some brief notes on two of them that fall into the 10 Books of Summer Reading category.

Darkside by [Bauer, Belinda]

5*

Darkside  is Belinda Bauer’s second novel, set in Shipcott on Exmoor a few years after the events in her first novel, Blacklands. Some of the characters in Blacklands also appear in Darkside, but only in minor roles and I think that Darkside can easily be read as a standalone novel. Shipcott is an isolated village and young PC Jonas Holly is the only policeman in the area covering seven villages and a large part of Exmoor. When Margaret Priddy is killed his inexperience means that has to call in the Taunton Homicide team, led by DCI John Marvel.

Jonas and Marvel clash and Jonas, undermined by as number of anonymous notes accusing him of failing to do his job, tries to keep out of Marvel’s way. More murders follow as Jonas, whose wife Lucy has been diagnosed with MS, is struggling to hold everything together. I liked the characterisation, the description of the setting and the twisty, turning plot. Like Blacklands, Darkside is full of a dark, brooding atmosphere and suspense. I had my suspicions about the identity of the murderer but it was only as I was getting near to the end of the book that I began to think I could possibly be right.

The Woman in Cabin 10

3*

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware didn’t satisfy me as much as Darkside. I liked the beginning of the book. The main character, journalist Lo Blacklock takes the opportunity to fill in for her boss on a luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship and hopes it will help her recover from a traumatic break-in at her flat. But woken in the night by a scream from cabin 10 next to hers she believes a woman was thrown over board, only to discover that the ship’s records show that cabin 10 was unoccupied. Lo is exhausted from lack of sleep, overwrought with anxiety and dependent on pills and alcohol to see her through. She fails to convince anyone that she is telling the truth.

So far so good. I thought the setting on a luxury cruise ship worked well for this type of locked room mystery. But then as I read on I felt the book was too drawn out, I wasn’t convinced by the plot and in places I found it hard to believe. I wanted to know how it would end  and it is easy reading, so I kept turning the pages. But the final chapter left me cold – tying up the ends in a facile way.

6 thoughts on “Catching Up: Darkside by Belinda Bauer & The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware”

  1. Sorry to hear that the Ware didn’t draw you in as much as you’d hoped, Margaret. But, as always, I do appreciate your candor. I’m not surprised you enjoyed the Bauer as much as you did. She is such a talented author, and I think one of her skills is exactly what you mentioned: creating an atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you plan to read Bauer’s latest novel – Snap – which has been longlisted for the Booker prize? I read Badlands and agree with you that it was quite a taught psychological narrative. Cabin 10 never appealed to me but I think it was because I had only recently read another murder/mystery on a yacht so it felt a bit too similar

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have read Snap already – and didn’t think it was as good as either Blacklands or Darkside. I thought it relied quite a lot on several coincidences and some of the characters were not much more than caricatures. But I thought the children in Snap came across as real characters and I liked the opening. Overall I did enjoy it, despite the coincidences. Like her other books Snap is quirky and different from other crime fiction, which is refreshing. I’ve also read Rubbernecker, which is different again – loved that one too, but my favourite is Blacklands!

      Like

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