Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Secretary – Renée Knight

Psychological Thriller
5*s

I was a huge fan of Renée Knight’s debut novel Disclaimer and so I had that inevitable mixture of excitement and conscious lowering of expectations as I approached this, the author’s second book. I didn’t need to have a moment of worry, I loved it.

This is a claustrophobic book which is mainly set within the mind of the titular secretary, Christina Butcher. Christina was employed by Mina Appleton as a secretary, almost on a whim, back in the day before personal assistants became de rigour, but essentially that is exactly what Christina was. She wasn’t just employed to help Mina with the family business, a supermarket, she was there to interview the nannies for her children, by the gifts for everyone and anyone, and be on call day and night to do Mina’s bidding.

You might imagine that Christina is a single woman free to devote her time and energy to her role for eighteen years but not so, as Christina tells us her story, we find that she was happily married with a young daughter.

This is exactly the type of psychological thriller I most enjoy, it isn’t a fast moving sweeping and swooping novel, instead it is a study of a relationship albeit one between two women in a business environment, just think given the nature of the work, how many dynamite pieces of information both personal and work-related that Christina has picked up over the years. We also get to see just what Christina has given, and sacrificed, in order to appease her whip-cracking boss.

Neither woman is particularly likeable, if you need to like at least one of the lead characters you probably won’t enjoy this book quite as much as I did. However, both came across as real, in fact, one of the aspects I particularly appreciated was how realistic this book felt. As I mentioned Mina is in the supermarket business and this strand of the storyline isn’t glossed over, we hear and witness some meetings with farmers, and we can easily compare the ethics with those we have read about with the national supermarkets. All interesting and giving every appearance as being researched and not just plonked into the book as a pet cause.

As the book develops there are several minor storylines featuring more sympathetic characters and these build towards what is an absolutely explosive ending. So although the book is what could be called a slow burn, for me it didn’t feel long enough – I was left knowing that we’d exhausted every avenue so I wasn’t left longing for me from that perspective, but having been so caught up within the storyline I was sad to say goodbye.

I’m sure the ending will divide readers, and for this reason alone I would definitely recommend The Secretary as a book club read, but I wasn’t disappointed by it as I enjoyed the sentiment and felt it was entirely in keeping with all that came before.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of The Secretary before it is published today, 21 February 2019. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and to Renée Knight for a completely addictive read.

First Published UK: 21 February 2019
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 304
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 6)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White which is on The Classics Club reading list because I am determined to make sure I read twelve books from this list in 2019.

Blurb

The Wheel Spins is the novel about young and bright Iris Carr, who is on her way back to England after spending a holiday somewhere in the Balkans. After she is left alone by her friends, Iris catches the train for Trieste and finds company in Miss Froy, chatty elderly English woman. When she wakes up from a short nap, she discovers that her elderly travelling companion seems to have disappeared from the train. After her fellow passengers deny ever having seen the elderly lady, the young woman is on the verge of her nerves. She is helped by a young English traveller, and the two proceed to search the train for clues to the old woman’s disappearance. Amazon

The last book I finished was the tenth in the Kim Stone series, Dead Memories by Angela Marsons was a fantastic addition to this brilliant series.

Blurb

On the fourth floor of Chaucer House, two teenagers are found chained to a radiator. The boy is dead but the girl is alive. For Detective Kim Stone every detail of the scene mirrors her own terrifying experience with her brother Mikey, when they lived in the same tower block thirty years ago.

When the bodies of a middle-aged couple are discovered in a burnt-out car, Kim can’t ignore the chilling similarity to the death of Erica and Keith – the only loving parents Kim had ever known.

Faced with a killer who is recreating traumatic events from her past, Kim must face the brutal truth that someone wants to hurt her in the worst way possible. Desperate to stay on the case, she is forced to work with profiler Alison Lowe who has been called in to observe and monitor Kim’s behaviour.

Kim has spent years catching dangerous criminals and protecting the innocent. But with a killer firmly fixed on destroying Kim, can she solve this complex case and save her own life or will she become the final victim? Amazon

Next up I plan to read The Secretary by Renée Knight which I’m really keen to read having loved Disclaimer, the author’s first book.

Blurb

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . . Amazon

What does your reading week look like?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 22)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Having requested books with something approaching abandon that I’m sure I’m going to regret when I have too many to read in too little time it does mean I have some fabulous books to choose from. One such book is The Secretary by Renée Knight who wrote Disclaimer. The Secretary will be published on 21 February 2019.

Blurb

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .
NetGalley

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

CHAPTER ONE

The secretary is the most dangerous person in the room. I couldn’t help smiling when I first read that sentence. It was in one of those old-fashioned detective novels; a cosy, drawing-room whodunnit, its pages littered with dead bodies. I curled up amongst them, pored over the details of their savage ends without feeling the least discomfort, safe in the knowledge that all would be well, each thread tied up, the criminal bought to justice. Three cheers for the clever sleuth. Real life is not like that. There are always loose ends, untidy fraying edges, however hard one might try to keep things neat. And justice? Justice is something I lost faith in long ago. I’ve read An Unquiet Woman countless times now – it’s one of the few books I bought with me to The Laurels, and on nights when I can’t sleep, it’s the book I read for, it’s the book that sends me off.

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Well the author knows her audience, I already have so many questions about the book, The Laurels and the secretary!

What do you think? Would you keep reading?