Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday, 20 March 2015

Disclaimer - Renee Knight


Synopsis

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day she became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.

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.


Review

‘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
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7 comments:

  1. really great review Lindsay. Its never easy reviewing a book without giving away spoilers but you've done it justice. I have a copy too but wasnt so keen.
    Gill

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  2. Superb commentary on this book Lindsay.

    The plot sounds so very intriguing. I can only imagine what the main character would experience while reading such a book.

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  3. I've got this on my TBR - your review has seen it bumped firmly to the top! Great stuff!

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  4. Hi Lindsay,

    What a thoughtful and compelling review, you have definitely sold me on this book, although it is one which I would probably never have thought to want to read, left to my own devices.

    I have tried to gauge reaction to 'Disclaimer', however ratings and reviews have been varied and quite evenly split, between the 'loved it 5 star' and the 'It was okay 3 star'. It sounds as though it is one that you really need to read and judge for yourself, so I shall be adding it to my Goodreads 'Want To Read' list.

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy what is left of the weekend :)

    Yvonne

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  5. I've seen the cover of this book but haven't added it to my TBR until now. This one definitely sounds intriguing despite the flaws. I love psychological thrillers and the premise is definitely compelling. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. What an interesting premise! Thank you for your insightful review, Lindsay. I love a good psychological thriller and am curious as to how the author carries this one out.

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