Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Disclaimer: A Novel - Renée Knight

I’d been meaning to read this for a long time and after I finished nanowrimo I decided to reward myself. Unfortunately I was disappointed with my first proper read since the end of October, so I’ll keep this review short as I don’t have all that much to say about it. While I did appreciate the themes, it ultimately fell flat.

 

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 Catherine 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.

 

What attracted me initially was that it started off written in second-person and the novel I’m writing is also written this way. I quickly found out that the alternating chapters are written in first-person by a man called Robert whose connection to Catherine is unknown. His chapters begin two years earlier and gradually intersect with Catherine’s in the present day.

 

Essentially, the central theme was that which we think we know, or presume, we often don’t. At the outset of the novel we think one thing, but later on find out things are very different than they first appeared. In this way I could see why the book was likened to Gone Girl, although this is really where the similarity ended. Unlike Gone Girl (a book I appreciated but didn’t like) the characters weren’t very well done, feeling flat and uninspired. Outside of the plot, which was a pretty standard psychological thriller, we didn’t get to know them much. The character-arc, when it came, was unfulfilling.

 

I was planning to give this two stars, but the ending, which wrapped things up well and provided one or two surprises, meant I increased this by half-a- star. I also appreciated the tender handling of some difficult themes that appeared towards the end.

 

The pacing is pivotal in a thriller and this lagged far too much in the first three-quarters to warrant it a decent read.