Am I allowed to call myself the queen of mystery? Not only am I a mysterious person (what kind of food do I really want???), but I also read an inordinate amount of mystery novels. Which is why I was willing to give Ware another chance with The Turn of the Key.
I’ve read two so-so Ware novels previously, Woman in Cabin 10 and Death of Mrs. Westaway. I was sad about the blandness on both counts because, in my opinion, Ware comes up with really interesting premises. The problem is Ware has a hard time executing them. For instance, in both cases someone started acting fishy about half way through the book. And then, 150 pages later, they’re the culprit. As you can imagine, I went into Turn of the Key with some trepidation. But I was actually pleasantly surprised. I think.
The plot: Rowan is writing a letter to a lawyer, she needs his help. She’s in jail after being arrested for killing a child. Except she claims she didn’t do it.
Flashback. Rowan was on the internet when she ran across an ad for a live in nanny. But wait, let’s stop. She makes a point to say that she was NOT job searching, she was looking for something else. Mentions it several times. Although she doesn’t tell us what that something else is until the end. Sigh.
Any way. This ad explains that it’s a family of six, with four girls in ages ranging from infancy to early teens. And the position pays a ton of money because they’re having a hard time keeping a nanny. Because their house in the secluded countryside is haunted. Or so all the other nannies have claimed.
Well Rowan doesn’t like her current job and doesn’t seem to have anything else going on in her life, so she applies. If she gets it, she decides she can keep paying rent on the flat she has with her roommate, just in case. Her roommate isn’t in the country any way. So it’s totally fine. Does this sound suspicious yet? And then, Rowan gets the position.
The family is desperate for help and she’s offered the job. She seems surprised, and I certainly was. She seems terrible with children. But throughout the interview she asked herself over and over ‘What would Rowan the nanny do?’ and was able to pull it off.
Also I should note that the house is a recently redone smart house that has controls and cameras everywhere. Which clashes with the rest of the antique house but whatever. The parents, who leave their children with a virtual stranger after like 20 minutes, are architects. So it’s totally fine.
To sum up like 300 pages: the children are all hellions. And Rowan is the worst nanny of all time. OF ALL TIME. The house is definitely haunted. Or something. Also, the gardener/driver dude and the housekeeper are both kinda shady.
But, we learn later, not actually shady. Just Rowan being paranoid.
Honestly, the end was predictable. All the stuff that seemed sketchy, was. EXCEPT for the part at the very end, that made absolutely no sense. I’m being serious. Y’all read this book then tell me what the heck happened.
But, unlike the other two Ware novels, this one was able to pull off interesting and creepy. And the characters were more interesting. I also thought the format of this one helped with the pacing.