Published on 9 April 2015 by Doubleday
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.
But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realise the story will reveal her darkest secret.
A secret she thought no one else knew…
* * *
“This is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination
and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, is purely coincidental”
Catherine and Robert Ravenscroft have a lifestyle which outsiders would envy. They both have successful careers – Robert is a lawyer whilst Catherine makes TV documentaries about the nastier side of life. They have just moved house, their son, 25 year Nicholas lives in a flat share. His life has not really been the success that his parents hoped for but at least he has a job and some resemblance of independent living. However what others see and the actual family dynamics are not always the same.
Boxes still remain to be unpacked when Catherine discovers a book left on her bedside table – the disclaimer has a neat, red line through it. Upon further reading, she is horrified to find that it is the story of her life; of secrets that she had kept hidden for over 20 years and, if made known to her family, could destroy them.
Doesn’t this premise sound so enticing? This is Renee Knight’s debut thriller, to be published by Doubleday in early April. This is another psychological suspense thriller that is attracting a lot of publicity and a buzz in the book world – is it deserved? Well, yes it is – to a degree.
Besides Catherine, the other main character is Stephen Brigstocke, an retired teacher who left his last school under a cloud. He is a widower and is still grieving for his wife Nancy who died 7 years before. Catherine’s narration is in the third person and set in 2013 whilst Stephen’s is in the first person but starts two years earlier. For me, the fact that we hear directly from Stephen makes his narration and actions even more sinister and although I felt that Catherine’s character remained rather remote, it is Stephen with his obsessive personality and his desire for retribution that stood out for me.
The story starts very slowly but gradually more and more details are revealed. It is very cleverly structured because you think you know what has happened but then something is revealed which makes you completely backtrack on what you thought you knew. From the start I was impatient to know what Catherine’s secret was and what had she done that was so dreadful to put her at the receiving end of such hatred. Why did this person want to destroy her life?
To go into any detail about the plot would ruin the story for those who have yet to read it but it is a story that is very well plotted and full of twists and turns with cleverly placed revelations and red herrings. I didn’t like any of the characters nor did I feel much sympathy for Catherine, in fact most of the time I was frustrated with her, and as for her husband – I won’t say any more! In all honesty, my only disappointment was with the ending – I wasn’t convinced by this (for obvious reasons I can’t reveal why) and I felt it was rushed compared to the overall slower pace.
A 4* read for me but nevertheless one to be recommended.
I received my review copy from the Amazon Vine review programme.
About the Author:
Renée Knight worked as a documentary-maker for the BBC before turning to writing and is a graduate of the Faber Academy. Disclaimer is her first novel.