By Renee Knight
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.
When Catherine Ravenscroft begins reading a novel that she finds on her bedside table, she is shocked to find that the book is infact about her and a past secret that she has tried so hard to suppress. She soon discovers who the author is, and the story is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of both Catherine and her nemesis. As the author invades Catherine’s life more and more, everything she knows and loves falls apart.
I have had this book on my shelf since it was published in 2015,but only just managed to get round to reading it, and I am sorry that I didn’t get to it sooner. This is a stunning page-turner, a psychological thriller with family at its heart.
The characters, especially Catherine and Stephen, are wonderfully drawn and you find your sympathy veering from one to the other, literally not knowing where it should rightfully be. The supporting characters, Robert; Catherine’s husband and Nicholas; their son are also engaging. But perhaps the characters that we never meet, Nancy; Stephen’s dead wife and Jonathan; their dead son are the ones that hold the story in their hands.
As the book progresses you know that all cannot be as it seems, and I did guess what had happened, but the skillful writing and characterisation means that nothing is taken away from the tension that is being wrought. This is not really a whodunnit or even a whydunnit, it is an exploration of what is left of the people left behind after traumatic, life-changing ordeals.
This book takes on grief and how, if unchecked, can lead to unimaginable bitterness and the ruination of more than one life. It looks at trust and family dynamics and the way we see and treat the ones we love.
For me, often, with psychological thrillers the ending can be a let down, but in this book it is perfect. It is a sad book in many ways, but one that should be read.