Zero Days by Ruth Ware

When a copy of Ruth Ware’s Zero Days arrived in my mailbox, I can’t lie, I was ecstatic! I’ve loved Ware’s crime thrillers for years and her latest did not disappoint. 

Zero Days follows Jacintha “Jack” Cross who works with her husband Gabe as a penetration specialist testing business security systems. Gabe tests their digital security by hacking them (passwords, client lists, etc.) while Jack is the boots on the ground, breaking into offices to check their practical security.  After being caught on a job and detained at a police station, Jack returns home to find Gabe’s throat slit in a hit-style killing. In classic “the-spouse-always-did-it” fashion, Jack is blamed for his murder and ends up on the run from the police, one of whom is her abusive ex-boyfriend. The plot of the novel is fantastic with many jaw-dropping twists and turns that I will not spoil.  

“Jack is a well-rounded character. She has all the suaveness of James Bond and the resourcefulness of McGyver.”

At first, I was a little apprehensive about Jack’s character. While Ware’s books always center on young capable women, I worried that Jack would be cast in the “not-like-other-girls” trope between her masculine name, punk style, and traditionally masculine job. But Ware does not disappoint. 

Jack is a well-rounded character. She has all the suaveness of James Bond and the resourcefulness of McGyver (and yes I wish I had female examples) but she also has healthy relationships with the other women in her life, including her sister Helena (“Hel”) who is both a journalist and a mother to twin girls. Hel ultimately helps Jack put together the pieces of Gabe’s murder and always defends Jack, helping her on the run and advocating for her to the police. Jack is also not a wholly rational character, she feels her emotions, grief, joy, fear, and rage, in a way that is evocative for the reader and makes the character realistic. Ware does not shy away from writing her characters as well-rounded women and Jack is no exception.  

One thing I have always enjoyed about Ruth Ware’s novels is their unflinching gaze on the epidemic of domestic violence and gender-based abuse. In almost all of her novels, Ware bases the murder mystery on an act of violence or revenge against a woman. With a third of all women experiencing gender-based violence and almost 40% of global murders of women being committed by intimate partners according to the WHO, this kind of violence is a reality for many women, and it grounds her books in reality while also championing a feminist message behind her thrillers.  

While intimate-partner violence does not play a part in the murder in Zero Days, it does still affect the plot in important ways. We are introduced to Jack’s abusive ex-boyfriend Jeff Leadbetter when Jack is detained by the police before finding Gabe dead. As a police officer, he had used his power to punish Jack for both leaving him and reporting him to his fellow officers for abuse by stocking her, sending her bogus parking tickets, and even ordering a drug raid on her apartment. Between all of this and the police’s inaction to protect her from the abuse, Jack has a mistrust for law enforcement and a fear that they believe her to be “the crazy ex-girlfriend” which propels her to run when they suspect her of Gabe’s death. Even in her novels, Ware tackles the unfortunate reality of many women who face domestic violence and report it to the police, only to have their abuse ignored.  

Whether you’ve been a fan of Ware for a while as I am or are now finding her work, Zero Day will not disappoint with its jaw-dropping plot, well-rounded characters, and classic Ruth Ware-ian feminism.  

Ruth Ware worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language, and a press officer before settling down as a full-time writer. She now lives with her family in Sussex, on the south coast of England. She is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail (Toronto) bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying GameThe Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Turn of the KeyOne by OneThe It Girl; and Zero Days. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster; Canadian edition (June 20 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1982163410
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982163419

Grace R. Taylor (They/Them) is a queer, disabled writer obsessed with the murderous women of Greek Mythology. They have a MA in English from the University of New Brunswick and have been published in The Angle and TransCare+’s Comfort Food Zine. They have been both a Co-Managing Editor and Poetry Editor for Qwerty Magazine and currently works at The Fiddlehead.