Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

by Renee Knight
Release Date: May 19th 2015
2015 Harper
Softcover Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062362254
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
Disclaimer is one of those books where I vacillated between hating and liking the characters throughout it, found myself caught up in the events to the point where I couldn't put it down, and kept thinking about the aftermath for several days after finishing it.  It's not that it was an overly great novel, but there were definitely some plot twists and surprises that caught me off guard and made it interesting.

Catherine and Robert Ravenscroft, towards the end of successful careers, he as a lawyer and she as a journalist who makes TV documentaries that show the uglier aspects of society, had just moved into a smaller flat, when she discovers an unfamiliar novel in her apartment.  Intrigued, she begins to read it, slowly realizing that it is about her and a big secret she has kept from her family for over twenty years.  Starting quite gradually, the plot evolves and expands, giving the reader bits and pieces at a time; this is when you realize how clever the plot actually is as there were several times that I guessed quite wrongly as to the secret, quietly suspecting what is was, but not believing it because the author was quite good at leading you astray.  The actual scene when you do discover the secret is quite disturbing and I had a hard time letting it go, especially after discovering another little secret that went with that scene (sorry, spoiler alert). 

The plot is actually told from two main POV, although there are other POV as well, just not as main characters.  Catherine is one, told from the third person, which kind of distances you from her emotionally, and from the perspective of Stephen Bridgstocke, told from the first person, which makes his story a bit more intimate.  Stephen's obsession with his deceased wife, and with his son, really stood out from everyone else's story line, making it seem much more portentous and inauspicious.  I do find it interesting that by the middle of the novel, I very much disliked pretty much everyone in this novel; I didn't feel a lot of sympathy for Catherine, some of which was probably due to the writing style, and some of it due to her actions.  And I definitely did not care for Catherine's husband Robert, who did not seem to have any sympathy in him whatsoever.  Let's just leave it at that and when you read the novel you can see what I mean for yourself.  I do find it interesting as to how my emotions changed with regards to the characters throughout the novel and I have to admire the author for doing a great job with that.  

Disclaimer is one of those novels that begins quite slowly, but has a way of drawing you in with clever plot twists and turns.  It is definitely a book about secrets and what happens when those secrets are allowed to fester over time; it is also a book about obsessions and having misplaced trust in people despite your own instincts and how it can ruin people's lives.  To be honest, I didn't really care what happened to the characters towards the end, although I am glad about one plot development with regards to Catherine and Robert. I really liked the way the author was able to mislead the reader into believing one thing while the reality was quite different, but I will admit to a bit of skepticism with regards to the ending as it just didn't ring true for me.  Overall, I thought this novel was quite well done, and I enjoyed it tremendously.