I absolutely loved Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs Westaway, so was very excited when invited to read her next novel ‘The Turn of the Key’ at the Pigeonhole book club.
At the start of the novel, it’s obvious that something has gone badly wrong for our protagonist as we learn her story from a series of letters she has written to a lawyer, Mr Wrexham, begging for help to prove her innocence in a high profile case where she is accused of murdering a child in her care.
Rowan is in her mid-20s and is looking for a change of pace. She works as a childcare assistant and can’t believe her luck when she stumbles across a job advertisement looking for a live-in Nanny in the wilds of Scotland. The salary is huge, and the perks fantastic. After surprising herself by getting the job, she ups and leaves her London apartment and heads off to the huge family home of Heatherbrae House. There she meets Sandra and Bill Ellincourt, parents to 4 children and successful architects who tell her that there has been a very quick succession of nannies through their home over the last few years – although they don’t tell her why – but they tell her that to ensure her loyalty, her salary will be split into 12 small payments, and one balloon payment to be collected when she completes a full year of service. She thinks it strange, but £55k is a lot of money for a live-in nanny so she decides it’s probably worth the risk.
Very soon after her arrival, they both quickly disappear to a trade fair, leaving Rowan holding the baby. And the twins. And eventually, the teenager. The only thing she has for company is the super-high tech ‘Happy’ system that makes Alexa look like a fisher price AI and the mysterious handyman, Jack Grant. All in all, it’s not going well for Rowan. She’s been thrown in at the deep end, the girls are understandably hostile to this stranger in their midst, but this is her dream job and she’s determined to see it through and get the girls to like her.
Then the footsteps in the attic begin…
Beautifully written and descriptive, this book keeps you guessing right to the end.