☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆
What It’s About:
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.
When I started The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, I felt the beginning of the novel was a bit rough; however, by the end, I had more appreciation of the story layout. If it were possible to elaborate on that without giving away the ending, I would. The story’s narrator has been accused of murder. She tells her story in a letter to a solicitor—in an effort to secure his services. I’m not a huge fan of the letter/diary entries layout, and thankfully, the “letter” quickly turns into a narrative from the accused point of view.
From the start, readers know that the heroine is up to something. The presumption is she is “up to” securing a fantastic-paying job for which she is not quite qualified. As the tension slowly builds, and the main character, Rowan Caine, is developed, readers are presented with a questionable and not-always-likable narrator.
The setting of an isolated estate is perfect for a creepy, gothic mystery. There is quite a lot of focus on the high tech gadgetry added to a historic estate that is set in the middle-of-no-where Scotland. I found the “smart house” more disappointing than a source of tension. It was a bit like the remake of the movie Sleuth—all the smart, artistic, edgy tension was replaced by technology, and for me, the change detracted from the spooky potential.
While the tension builds slowly in the first part of the book, as the story reaches its zenith, the action and emotions take off. It is at this point that the narrator starts telling her truth. The end is a bit nebulous (again, I won’t spoil the read by discussing that further). The reader gets an answer to the mystery that could be satisfying, but it is left so open to interpretation that I’m not sure I got the ending I wanted. Which begs the question, how often is justice really served?
About the Author: Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.
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