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Publishers Weekly Review
A mysterious book within a book, which contains potentially damning information about the protagonist, jump starts this remarkable debut by British scriptwriter Knight. On the bedroom nightstand in the new apartment documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft shares with her husband, Robert, Catherine finds a self-published novel, The Perfect Stranger, which describes an incident that Catherine never told Robert about. Over 20 years earlier in Spain, 19-year-old Jonathan Brigstocke drowned while saving the couple's five-year-old son, Nicholas. The book suggests that Catherine was to blame because she and Jonathan were having an affair, and it concludes with her death. Meanwhile, widower and retired teacher Stephen Brigstocke, who found the book's manuscript among his late wife's possessions and believes it to be true, begins to try to dismantle Catherine's seemingly perfect life by humiliating her professionally and personally. This unsettling psychological thriller about guilt and grief briskly moves to a shocking finale enhanced by its strong characters. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Novels generally come with the disclaimer that any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental, and so does this one, twice once in its usual place, and once in the book within the book and therein lies the story. That book is on documentary-filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft's night table; only she didn't put it there. Catherine has a comfortable life; her husband is in law, and her son, while having problems, has moved out and is living an independent life. When she starts reading the mysterious book, she quickly realizes that she is the protagonist, and the secret she has kept hidden is about to tear her life apart. In a seemingly disparate story, Stephen Brigstocke is a retired teacher and grieving husband who is living a very sad life. Eventually their stories intersect with devastating consequences. This is a good psychological thriller with the ever-popular unreliable narrator, in this case two of them, along with lots of family drama. Sure to appeal to fans of Before I Go to Sleep, by S. J. Watson.--Alesi, Stacy Copyright 2015 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
When a mysterious novel appears on her bedside table, a successful documentary filmmaker finds herself face to face with a secret that threatens to unravel life as she knows it.Catherine Ravenscroft has built a dream life, or close to it: the devoted husband, the house in London, the award-winning career as a documentary filmmaker. And though she's never quite bonded with her 25-year-old son the way she'd hoped, he's doing finethere are worse things than being an electronics salesman. But when she stumbles across a sinister novel called The Perfect Strangerno one's quite sure how it came into the houseCatherine sees herself in its pages, living out scenes from her past she'd hoped to forget. It's a threatbut from whom? And why now, 20 years after the fact? Meanwhile, Stephen Brigstocke, a retired teacher, widowed and in pain, is desperate to exact revenge on Catherine and make her pay for what happened all those years ago. The story is told in alternating chapters, Catherine's in the third-person and Stephen's in the first, as the two orbit each other, predator and prey, and the novel moves between the past and the present to paint a portrait of two troubled families with trauma bubbling under the surface. As their lives become increasingly entangled, Stephen's obsession grows, Catherine's world crumbles, and it becomes clear thatin true thriller formeverything may not be as it seems. But how much destruction must be wrought before the truth comes out? And when it does, will there be anything left to salvage? While the long buildup to the big reveal begins to drag, Knight's elegant plot and compelling (if not unexpected) characters keep the heart of the novel beating even when the pacing falters. Atmospheric and twisting and ripe for TV adaptation, this debut novel never strays far from convention, but that doesn't make it any less of a page-turner.An addictive psychological thriller. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.