The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.        

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 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.

You have two roads ahead of you, but they twist and turn….You want to know which you should take.

They mystery surrounding Hal’s past kept me intrigued, but it was really Hal’s character that kept me turning pages. Her character is what I loved most about this book. Hal has spent most of her life observing versus being the center of attention, which has enabled her to master reading people. She can use this skill to deceive, but she has a generous nature. At the same time, she is also fighting to survive and must take what she can. Her character exemplifies the notion that those who observe are more powerful than those who need to be at the center of attention.

You can’t influence fate, or change what’s out of your control. But you can choose what you yourself do with the cards you’re dealt.

Trespassen House also plays a large role. The thickly woven atmosphere surrounding the house, transported me. Even though the events take place in the current moment, I felt like I had gone back in time while reading this as it is reminiscent of classic mysteries. The tarot card readings and the constant presence of magpies contributed to this feeling.

This is not a book focused on fast-paced action, but rather the slow unveiling of nuances surrounding the mystery. Subtle clues are planted throughout, but all does not come together until the end. This is a mystery with many layers; I found it intriguing, intelligent, and entertaining.

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