What would you do if you were reading a book and suddenly realized that not only was it about you but that it exposed a secret that you had never shared with any living soul?
That’s the premise behind “Disclaimer,” a stunning new thriller from Renee Knight. Catherine Ravenscroft is a successful documentary film-maker married to an equally successful lawyer. The couple has just downsized by moving into a smaller home and Catherine finds herself reading an intriguing book:
“Any resemblance to persons living or dead. . .” The disclaimer has a neat red line through it. A message she failed to notice when she opened the book. There is no mistaking the resemblance to her. She is a key character, a main player. Names may have been changed but the details are unmistakable, even down to what she was wearing that afternoon. A chunk of her life she has kept hidden. A secret she has told no one, not even her husband and son – two people who think they know her better than anyone else. No living soul can have conjured up what Catherine has just read. Yet there it is in printer’s ink for anyone to see. She thought she had laid it to rest. That it was finished. But now it has resurfaced. In her bedroom. In her head.
“Disclaimer” takes off from there, weaving an intricately plotted tail of loss and revenge and the power of secrets. Catherine’s story is intertwined with that of grieving elderly widower Stephen Brigstocke, who has found a manuscript containing Catherine’s closely guarded secret among his late wife’s possessions.
He sees that Catherine receives his book:
I wanted her to feel its full blast when she was least expecting it, perhaps curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine in her hand. I didn’t include a note with the book. I wasn’t seeking attention for myself – it was recognition I was after. Not of me, but of her. I wanted her to recognize that the woman in the book was her true self, not the one she pretended to be, but the real one. I wanted to smack her in the face with the truth.
Yet Stephen’s truth is not Catherine’s. These unreliable double narratives intersect in this tautly written and compelling psychological thriller to reveal a deeply shocking and unsettling truth. “Disclaimer” is an unqualified success as a riveting page-turner and an unforgettable tale of the inadvertent consequences of deceit.
“Disclaimer” is available on amazon.com and at your favorite New York bookstores.