- • Hardcover: 352 pages
- • Publisher: Harper (May 19, 2015)
What if you realized the terrifying book you were reading was all about you?
A brilliantly conceived, deeply disturbing psychological thriller about a woman haunted by secrets—and the price she will pay for concealing the truth.
When a mysterious novel appears at Catherine Ravenscroft’s bedside, she is curious. She has no idea who might have sent her The Perfect Stranger—or how it ended up on her nightstand. At first, she is intrigued by the suspenseful story that unfolds.
And then she realizes.
This isn’t fiction.
The Perfect Stranger re-creates in vivid, unmistakable detail the day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.
Now that the past Catherine so desperately wants to forget is catching up with her, her world is falling apart. Plunged into a living nightmare, she knows that her only hope is to confront what really happened on that terrible day . . . even if the shocking truth may destroy her.
Buy, read, and discuss Disclaimer:
Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries and has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four, and Capital Films. In April 2013, she graduated from the Faber Academy “Writing a Novel” course, whose alumni include S. J. Watson. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
From the very first page, I was absolutely hooked on this story, which is told partly in flashbacks to two years before the novel’s ‘present’ and in alternating viewpoints of Catherine and someone else. (Spoilers, sweeties! I can’t be more specific than that.) It begins with Catherine being a bit unsettled about something – we quickly learn it’s a book she’s been reading – and the suspense builds from there, and keeps building to the end of the novel.
The plot is what makes a thriller, of course, but without compelling characters, even the best plot remains flat. In our primary POV character, Catherine, author Renee Knight has given us an interesting, complex woman who is keeping secrets that are agonizing her. Knight does an excellent job of depicting the guilt, the pain, and the longing to just tell the truth that Catherine feels, but she’s also surrounded this woman with equally dimensional characters who react to her apparent behavior oblivious to what is going on inside her mind. It’s a tricky balancing act, making sure no one else knows what Catherine does, making sure no one really sees into her head, but Knight pulls it off with aplomb.
If I had to pick one word to describe Disclaimer, I would choose “cinematic,” because this novel feels like it would translate to the screen incredibly well. The author directs documentaries and writes film scripts, so perhaps she’s used to seeing things from a camera’s perspective, but I felt like every scene break would have been a perfect cut, and the pace of the novel is perfect for a movie theater experience.
If you want a fast paced thriller with real emotional impact, read Disclaimer. You won’t be disappointed.
Goes well with: a club sandwich, fresh coleslaw, and a vanilla cream soda.
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