Disclaimer, by Renee Knight

Disclaimer, by Renee Knight

Today, I’m pleased to be heading up the Disclaimer blogtour. Described by Lee Child as ‘sensationally good psychological suspense,’ it’s the latest must-read, promising to turn you upside down but with an ending that may catch you out in ways you weren’t expecting.

Catherine is married to Robert. She’s an award-winning documentary film-maker with everything in her life, seemingly, just as it should be. Her son, Nick, is something of a disappointment, but at least he’s in his own place now, being independent. Stephen Brigstocke, on the other hand, is a failure. A lonely, disgraced schoolmaster, he is unable to move on after the death of his wife and is haunted by a life that had started with so much promise. He once had a son as well.

From the opening chapter, Disclaimer is a narrative of fragmentation. A book arrives in Catherine’s new home out of nowhere, shattering her façade of happiness. As her world implodes, the chapters in her voice are interspersed with Stephen’s narrative, chronicling his painful piecing together of the events leading to his son’s death, the same events that destroyed his wife. The book is his revenge: he wants to see Catherine suffer for all she has put him, and them, through.

On the front cover of my proof copy is a standard disclaimer, that any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, followed by an asterisk leading to the caveat Everything you have just read is a lie. This caveat is missing from the published cover, but it shouldn’t take the reader long to suss it out. Knight has brought the art of the unreliable narrator into extremely sharp focus. As a reader, I was continually unseated. I felt sorry for Catherine, then my sympathy was punctured. Stephen was an object of loathing, until a neat twist made him the victim. The ‘facts’ of the long distant summer’s day which are the focus of Stephen’s book are juggled, a kaleidoscope presenting as many views as there are characters to follow. No-one’s viewpoint is unsullied.

Comparisons have, of course, been made with Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and it’s easy to see why. There are the multiple voices building up the whole picture, the playing with sympathies, the strong female voice. And there is the pulling of the rug to change the reader’s perspective when they are least expecting it. Knight does something a little different, though, and the volte-faces had me questioning why I was assuming x or judging y. There is the thread throughout of the camera as an impartial eye but the pictures taking on the desires of the viewer. At times, the camera was pointing at me. It’s hard to comment on an ending without giving too much away, so this will, of necessity, be opaque. Disclaimer winds to an close with a sense of clarity and vulnerability that I wasn’t expecting. I felt a little wrong-footed, a lot unsettled. Recommended.

 

Below are the blogs for the rest of week one of the tour. You can also follow via #DisclaimerBook. My Q&A with Renee Knight is here. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer Blogtour Week 1

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Ward
    18 Apr 2016

    Interesting review and I agree it’s a difficult book to talk about without giving to much away. I enjoyed it but wasn’t sure if I liked Catherine which is fine as I don’t always need to like a protagonist.

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