My local book store seems to be inundated with books described as “this year’s Girl on the Train” at the moment, and Disclaimer is one of these books. I was intrigued by the cover and picked it up a number of times before buying it; I was put off by the hype, but the sales woman recommended it and has thus far never steered me wrong.
The premise of this book is actually quite disturbing:
“What if you realised the terrifying book you were reading was all about you?
When a mysterious novel appears at Catherine Ravenscroft’s bedside, she is curious. She has no idea who might have sent her The Perfect Stranger – or how it ended up on her nightstand. At first she is intrigued by the suspenseful story that unfold.
And then she realises.
This isn’t fiction.”
Can you imagine anything more horrifying than realising that the novel you are reading is about you? That your worst secrets are there in black and white for the world to see? Catherine Ravenscroft seems to have the perfect life; she is an award winning documentary film maker, she has just moved house with her husband Richard, and their son Nicholas has left home. Nicolas is a bit of a wastrel, he drifts between low paid jobs and has a history of drug use, but he seems to be on the straight and narrow.
Soon after the move Catherine starts to read one of the books on her nightstand, The Perfect Stranger, and is appalled when she realises it is about her. Catherine can’t remember purchasing the book, and becomes paranoid that someone has been into her house. The character based on Catherine meets a violent end in the novel’s final chapter; is this fiction or a warning? Catherine’s perfect life starts to crumble around her as she becomes obsessed with finding the author of the novel; only one other person knew her secret, and that person is dead. Stephen Brigstocke the author of The Perfect Stranger has his own reasons for messing with Catherine; he wants revenge for her role in the destruction of his family, and he won’t be satisfied until she has lost everything.
Dislaimer is a very clever, very well written psycological thriller; there are two sides to every story, and in this novel you get to see both of them, although nothing is quite what it seems. Throughout the book I had a definite idea about who was the victim, and who was the villain; at the end of the book this was turned upside down. I’m one of those annoying people who always see the twist coming, but I didn’t see this twist.
Renee Knight has a knack for creating characters with multiple sides to their personality; Catherine is strong yet vulnerable, Stephen Brigstocke the archetypal creepy old man, and yet he is also a victim of circumstances.
Read it, you won’t be disappointed – it definitely lives up to the hype.
Let me know your thoughts about Disclaimer or any book recommendations in the comments.