I’m not sure what kind of genre or category this book fits into – general psychological suspense although it doesn’t really matter except for my rating and there, because of the “all for the sake of the tension,” element, it’s more of a genre book than literary. The suspense is based on an old secret of Catherine Ravencroft which apparently someone else knows because 20 years after the fact she receives a book which details the whole series of events in novel form. – It would seem that only the names have been changed to protect – ? – the guilty?
by Reneé Knight
2015 / 352 pages (Harper)
read by Michael Pennington and Laura Paton – 8h 25m
rating: B- / psychological suspense
So of course the narrative switches to the 1st person narrative of Stephen Brigstock, the co-author (I guess would be the word) of the book although it was really the work of his wife prior to her death 8 years prior. He tells us how he came to find the manuscript, reproduce it, get it printed and deliver it. Brigstock wants revenge
The structure of the book is comprised of alternating sections with Catherine, her husband and Brigstock, getting their own voices as well as alternating between 2013 and two years prior which catches up to spring and summer, 2013, although there are a few chapters which take place in Spain about 20 years prior.
Who is reliable? Only Brigstock is 1st person, but the other 3rd person narrators are intimate enough we get pretty well inside their heads – they may not be reliable in what they report to others or to themselves.
A really interesting part of this book is that there is “a book within the book” – yes, the contents of the book which has upset Catherine so badly is revealed in some of the alternating sections. Without that the book would have been far less interesting another case of unreliable narrators battling it out ala Gone Girl ( Gillian Flynn). But with the extra version of events, that of the book, the tension multiplies.
Virtually no chuckles here, but about half way through Brigstock describes what he sees in a coffee shop: “… youngsters: drinks on the table, cigarettes standing by, faces ready to break into laughter. All normal. It could have been a scene from any decade, except they weren’t speaking. There was no conversation. They weren’t even looking at each other. Their eyes were down, on their phones, like a bunch of old ladies checking their bingo cards.” LOL!
Also, a bit irritating are the graphic sex scenes (to me) – and the emotional manipulation is over the top which results in the reader’s sympathies switching from one character to another, back and forth – it’s pretty exhausting – annoying after awhile.