After seeing tons of hype about The Woman in Cabin 10, I finally decided to read it. I was a big fan of Gone Girl and a moderate fan of The Girl on the Train, so I suspected that I would probably like The Woman in Cabin 10 for more reasons than the similar names, and that held true for the most part. I finished the book feeling satisfied: the writing is smooth, the setting is well drawn, and the plot was suspenseful enough to keep me engaged. It was, on pretty much every count, a good book. That being said, there wasn’t anything I loved about the story.
In a nutshell: While on an assignment to cover the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise ship, travel journalist Lo Blacklock believes she has witnessed a woman being thrown into the ocean, but nobody seems to remember the victim ever having been on board. As she sets out to expose what she thinks she saw, Lo discovers that the true nature of the crime is very different than she imagined. In the end, the sleuthing puts her life at stake.
As Lo insists that the ship’s staff and other passengers help her uncover what happened to the mysterious woman in cabin 10, there’s the recurring insinuation that because Lo is a woman who has recently experienced trauma, she must be paranoid and hysterical. Certain bits of dialogue, whether internal or spoken aloud, make it clear that Lo is aware of the way she is unfairly perceived by the people around her. And because she’s clearly very intelligent, Lo is also aware that she must stay rational even as she feels she’s losing control. These tensions, paired with the claustrophobia of the ship, are definitely well executed and create an awesome atmosphere for the novel.
Interspersed throughout the narrative are emails and news clippings that do a lot to heighten the suspense, and there’s a flock of red herrings good enough to make you seriously question which characters are trustworthy and which are suspicious. Though there are two big twists, I definitely saw one of them coming from a mile away. It was still satisfying – I just didn’t find it as surprising as the characters did. Overall, I liked many things about The Woman in Cabin 10, but it didn’t make the enormous splash I thought it would.