My first encounter with Ruth Ware’s work was when I read The Turn of the Key quite by accident. I think I found it at the library and realized when I read the back that it was an update on The Turn of the Screw. I really liked it. Actually, it made me consider doing a whole literature course based on the (bad) nanny/governess trope, which I never got around to developing. So when I saw this book on sale at Costco I had to try it. Ware (a pen name) is British and sometimes compared with Agatha Christie. This particular book is more reminiscent of Colin Dexter’s work (Detective Morse!). I loved that it’s set in Oxford (at an imaginary college) so I could recognize landmarks, etc. A bonus is that she’s not misogynistic like Dexter.
The story concerns Hannah, a pregnant bookstore clerk who abandoned her plans to get an Oxford degree when her roommate was murdered. The roommate, April, is the titular It Girl, a stupidly wealthy and mostly self-centered girl who likes to play mean pranks on people (among other things to get attention). Weirdly, Hannah actually likes April and it seems to be reciprocated. The book has a good pace, and I honestly did not see the ending coming (e.g. who really committed the murder and how). Hannah solves the mystery, figures out who really ‘dunnit’, but initially can’t figure out why. I *nearly* thought Ware was going to leave us without the murderer’s motive–and I actually wish she’d done that (pulled an Agatha Christie, breaking one of the Rules of the Genre) since what we get as a motive was under-whelming. But, still, a really fun summer read.