My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Adult Mystery
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: August 6th, 2019
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
The Turn of the Key is wonderfully atmospheric and the mystery will keep you turning that page until the very last reveal. It also reminded me why I don’t have children *shudder*
I didn’t really know what to expect when I requested this book. I don’t have a ton of experience with Ruth Ware, the only book I had read of hers was In a Dark Dark Wood and I was fairly let down. My complaint with the book was the characters were basic and the story was predictable but at the same time, I enjoyed her writing style. It seems to be a really common comment among readers about her work. I’m happy to say that my experience with this novel was altogether different. The Turn of the Key worked for me on all levels.
Right off the bat we learn that we are hearing the story of a nanny who has been found guilty of murdering one of the children she was the nanny of. She is begging a well-to-do lawyer to listen to her case, she says she wasn’t given a fair trial and no one truly heard her out. She then begins writing her story to him about when she applied for the nanny position for some very rich parents in the middle of nowhere, of course. She admits that she wasn’t completely honest on her resume, but she wanted the job badly because the pay was amazing. She managed to charm her way into the position and starts shortly after. We also learn that the family lived in a smart house – everything is electronic and everything is recorded. Privacy seems to be a thing of the past. You talk to the house like you might talk to Siri on your phone and tell it what you want and it mostly attempts to do it. The mother was supposed to stay with her for a couple weeks while she got to know the children (who are creepy af), but she got called away to work almost instantly and the nanny had to deal with the kids on her own and running the insane house.
The setting is one of the best things this book has going for it. The smart house doesn’t come off as easy and convenient for me at all. I can’t imagine being thrown into learning a system where if I say a wrong code the shower will blast me with burning hot water or something. Also, the privacy thing? Oh hell no. No one wants to be watched all day and night. Might be good for a really young child but that’s about it. There is also a really cool poison garden that the kids drag the nanny to and I swear you could put an entire book just in that setting. It’s so eerie. If you are looking for creepy atmosphere, this book has it in spades.
The characters are pretty well developed here. I don’t want to go into any of them because I think you need to sort of meet them all yourself and watch their part in the story unfold. There are a couple of really good side characters that are additional staff at the house that really offer some great story I think. I will say the children are maddening a lot of the time – I would have quit pretty fast – I can’t even imagine staying.
Overall, the book has a steady pace and some really good twists and turns. I didn’t see all of them coming. The end reveal made me feel a little stupid because I think I should have figured it out but I didn’t. The ending was a little rushed compared to the rest, which is why this isn’t a five star book for me. I would completely recommend giving this a try if you are into neatly woven adult mysteries with some great twists.