Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day . . . even if the shocking truth might destroy her.
‘Catherine had unwittingly stumbled across herself tucked into the pages of the book.’
Disclaimer is a really compelling debut novel from Renee Knight. The narrative has a clever structure and the premise of the story is a real cracker – starting to read a novel and discovering the story is about you, hence the title ‘disclaimer’ – in the novel Catherine Ravenscroft picks up, The Perfect Stranger, there is a line crossing the usual disclaimer out, because although it appears to be fiction, in fact it very much does resemble ‘actual persons’ and events. Not only is the story all about an episode in Catherine’s past, with accurate details, but it also reveals a deep, dark and painful secret that she believed she had successfully buried long ago, kept from everyone including her husband and son, never to be uncovered. The other main character we are introduced to is widower and former teacher Stephen Brigstocke, and chapters alternate between his story in the first-person, and Catherine’s in the third. I was intrigued to see how their lives, and initially seemingly unconnected worlds, would intersect as the novel progressed.
With a page-turning, tense plot, boasting twists and revelations as secrets and lies come to light bit by bit, the past comes back to haunt Catherine and as a reader it was a book I kept wanting to get back to, wondering where the story would take me next. The author does a great job of keeping the reader guessing and wondering about the true nature of what occurred in the past, challenging our assumptions and maintaining suspense, depicting her characters in such a way as to make us unsure as to where our true sympathies should lie.
The story is thought-provoking, questioning the wisdom of the secrets people keep, and the novel deals with loneliness, love, intimidation, obsession and revenge, violence and trust – I won’t say more because the story must be discovered without spoilers. I would have liked perhaps a bit more detail about Robert, Catherine’s husband, to flesh him out a little more clearly. Overall though I thought this was a gripping story. Sometimes psychological thrillers such as this are very strong plot-wise for part of the book but then waver or tail off; for me, in this one the storyline stayed strong until the end.
Review copy received via amazon vine