I’m going to start this review with a bold statement – this book will make my top ten reads of 2015. Yes it was so good that I can’t see me coming across ten other books that will beat this one.
So what’s it about? Well as with any book that depends on the reader not knowing very much before they start to appreciate the story, I can’t tell you very much! I can tell you that our chief protagonist, Catherine Ravenscroft has just moved house to a new apartment with her husband Robert when she comes across a novel. Idly picking it up the book entitled Perfect Stranger with the standard disclaimer; any resemblance to persons living or dead scored through with red pen. She starts to read and to her horror she realises it is about her, and more specifically about a secret that she has kept for the last twenty years. All the reader knows at this stage is the secret involves her son Nicholas, their less than successful son, who at Catherine’s instigation has moved into a shared house in a bid to foster some independence and responsibility into his life. Of course the questions raised by the book are what is the secret? And just as importantly who knows and cares enough to write a book about it?
Alternating with Catherine’s narrative we hear from another voice, that of a lonely old man, mourning the death of his wife, Nancy but at last determinedly clearing his house of her belongings, packing her clothes away and giving them to charity shops where he gets given cups of teas and a chance to talk about Nancy.
The reason I enjoyed this book so much was the way that Renee Knight skilfully played on my emotions, changing my opinion of all of the characters who populate this book with an ease that left me reeling. My once certain opinion swept away in a single sentence as another piece of information is casually dropped into the narrative. This is a book of suspense but not of the obvious kind, the tension is palpable and illustrated by Catherine’s actions rather than internal monologues about how scared she is, as she turns from a capable and decisive documentary maker into a scared shadow as she wonders what will follow, how far is the author prepared to go to completely destroy her life? Should she take the ending as a warning, all of these thoughts push real life to the periphery as she valiantly tries to keep the secret under wraps.
Readers that aren’t keen on protagonists they don’t like may well not enjoy this as much as I did but although many of the characters in this book behaved in a way I wouldn’t, at no point did their behaviour seem out of character, they were real people behaving in realistic ways albeit at the edge of their sanity at times and I was utterly convinced.
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to the publishers Random House UK firstly for publishing this book, and secondly for allowing me the great pleasure of reading it. Disclaimer will be published on 9 April 2015 and it is a must for lovers of psychological thrillers.