This exceptional psychological thriller from Ware (One by One) probes how much one can trust others—and one’s self. Hannah Jones’s Oxford University roommate, April Clarke-Cliveden, is everything Hannah isn’t: wealthy, sophisticated, sexually adventurous, and occasionally cruel. The two become best friends despite their differences and the unspoken attraction between Hannah and April’s boyfriend, Will. Moments after Hannah sees college porter John Neville leaving their residence building, she finds April strangled. Though Neville is later convicted of the murder, the crime, trial, and subsequent media furor upend Hannah’s life. Ten years later, she’s living in Edinburgh, married to Will, and pregnant. Days after Neville dies in prison, a journalist emails her with evidence that calls the porter’s guilt into doubt. Fearing her testimony helped convict an innocent man, Hannah feels compelled to revisit the murder with the three Oxford friends that knew April best. The memories shared by mild-mannered doctor Hugh, mathematician Emily, and Ryan, who has suffered a stroke since their college years, call most of what she’s believed about April and her death into question. Alternating past and present chapters build toward a gripping denouement as nicely chosen details bring each character vividly to life. This showcases Ware’s gifts to the fullest. Agent: Eve White, Eve White Literary (U.K.). (July)
From the Publisher
"So many flawed friendships, so many promising red herrings. . . . The pages just turn themselves." —People Magazine
“Ware once again demonstrates her literary claim as the 21st century’s answer to Agatha Christie with this ingeniously crafted puzzler . . . Fans of Golden Age mysteries like Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night will love the book’s Oxford setting, while readers of trendy dark academia suspense novels, in the manner of Alex Michaelides’s The Maidens, will feel right at home. Top-drawer entertainment from a modern master of mystery.”—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Ruth Ware’s richly-textured The IT Girl is at once an engrossing murder mystery while also a perfectly crafted and haunting examination of lost youth and the compromises of adulthood, as a woman unpicks the past secrets of her university friends to finally lay to rest her murdered best friend, the dazzling April. Reminiscent of The Secret History, Ware has surpassed herself with this gripping, absorbing whodunnit. I loved it! All hail the Queen." —Sarah Pinborough, New York Times Bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
"Deliciously dark and utterly addictive — my favourite Ruth Ware yet!" —Lucy Foley, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Apartment and The Guest List
“Every Ruth Ware novel is a unique and unexpected gem and this one is no exception. A heady, tense, slowburn dream of a book, multi-layered and steeped in atmosphere and peril. I loved every page." —Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone
“Ware develops both the reader’s doubts about and concern for Hannah as the suspense builds gradually under a masterful barrage of red herrings . . . Riveting.” —Booklist (Starred Review)
“This exceptional psychological thriller from Ware probes how much one can trust others—and one’s self . . . . Alternating past and present chapters build toward a gripping denouement as nicely chosen details bring each character vividly to life. This showcases Ware’s gifts to the fullest.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging . . . Delightfully readable.” —Kirkus Reviews
Ware (One by One; The Turn of the Key) once again demonstrates her literary claim as the 21st century's answer to Agatha Christie with this ingeniously crafted puzzler in which she deftly shifts suspicion among a closed circle of suspects, while cleverly inserting seemingly innocuous clues to the real killer among a sea of red herrings. When Hannah Jones hears the news that John Neville has died in prison, she thinks it is finally over. Instead, for Hannah, it is just beginning. Ten years ago, Hannah's testimony sent Neville to prison for the murder of Hannah's Oxford roommate and friend April Clarke-Cliveden. Now a reporter wants to meet with Hannah to share with her information he believes may prove Neville's innocence. But if Neville didn't murder April, who did? VERDICT Fans of Golden Age mysteries like Dorothy Sayers's Gaudy Night will love the book's Oxford setting, while readers of trendy dark academia suspense novels, in the manner of Alex Michaelides's The Maidens, will feel right at home. Top-drawer entertainment from a modern master of mystery.—John Charles
Ten years after having discovered her Oxford roommate’s dead body in front of the fireplace in their room, a young woman struggles with the realization that she may have helped send the wrong man to prison.
Hannah Jones arrives at Oxford hardly believing that she’s been accepted into this haven of learning and wealth. Sharing a picturesque set of rooms with the flamboyant and beautiful April Clarke-Cliveden, she divides her time between rigorous studying and energetic socializing with Emily Lippmana, Ryan Coates, Hugh Bland, and Will de Chastaigne, with whom she shares an attraction even though he's April’s boyfriend. It’s a good life except for the increasingly creepy interactions she has with John Neville, one of the porters. When Hannah finds April dead one night just after she’s seen Neville coming down the stairs from their rooms, it’s her testimony that puts him in jail. Ware divides the novel into alternating “before” and “after” chapters, with the narrative of Hannah’s college experience unfolding parallel to the events of her life nearly a decade later, when she’s married to Will and pregnant with their first child. Then Neville dies in prison and Hannah hears from a reporter who thinks he might actually have been innocent. Hannah begins to wonder herself, and she plunges back into the past to see if she can figure out what really happened that night. As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging—but it lacks the author's signature sense of urgent and imminent threat. The novel unfolds smoothly, providing a few twists and turns, as the reader might expect, but not really delivering any true suspense. It also lacks the contrast between a luxurious background and the characters’ fears that Ware has often played to great effect. She does offer a deeper dive into the trauma of the survivors than she usually does, but this isn't the breathless page-turner one has come to expect from Ware.
Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.