In Ware’s debut, a reclusive crime writer reunites with a long-lost friend during a weekend hen party that goes horribly wrong.
When Leonora Shaw wakes up in the hospital with memory gaps and a head wound, one of the first questions she asks is, “What have I done?” Through flashbacks, Ware slowly unspools the mystery, setting a truly spooky scene as six relative strangers gather at the isolated Glass House, celebrating the upcoming marriage of Nora’s former friend Clare Cavendish, with whom she had lost touch 10 years before. Nora, sensitive and skittish and nursing some great secret about her past and her lost friendship with Clare, wants nothing more than to leave, but she feels trapped by curiosity, guilt, and obligation to Flo, the woman who planned the weekend and takes any complication as a personal affront. In classic Agatha Christie fashion, the first half of the novel is masterful in the slow build of suspense. Clearly, something is very wrong, but it’s unclear whether it’s Nora, Clare, Flo, or some outside intruder who is responsible for the chills and the deepening unease. Unfortunately, as Nora’s memory returns, the truth and the climax ultimately disappoint, and Nora’s timidity and secrecy become frustrating. The final reveal is pretty predictable. However, the success of the first half of the novel does speak to Ware’s ability to spin a good yarn. Recalling such classics as And Then There Were None, she creates a unique setting for the psychological scares, and her characters, while somewhat stock, have enough depth to fool even savvy mystery fans for a while.
Like the Glass House itself, this novel is “a tiger’s enclosure, with nowhere to hide” and with a constant undercurrent of danger. Read it on a dark and stormy night—with all the lights on.