The Book of You - Claire Kendal
My rating: 5 of 5
A terrifying psychological thriller about obsession and power, perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.
Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.
Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.
I was reluctant to read this book. I knew it would zoom in with fierce intensity on one issue – stalking – and I wasn’t sure if I was up to handling a bout of unremitting, feverish misery!
Having said that it was an amazing read. It was like reading someone’s private diary over their shoulder or eavesdropping on the victim yourself! An ironic parallel with what Rafe is doing in the story, so we, the reader are voyeurs to Clarissa’s every move. The style is extremely immediate and unfolds in real time with flashbacks. The narrative is clever; present tense, second-person for the diary and past tense, third person for the court/outside life scenes, so it doesn't become too wearing for the reader. There are some unusual, unique turns of phrase - a little clunky, even unsophisticated in parts, but always heartfelt and frequently poignant.
Surely, it’s a book every woman (and man, come to think of it) should read. It brings out the salient point about how hard it is to know what is ‘acceptable’ in relationships. Clarissa has lived a sheltered upbringing, she doesn’t realise the full details of the one-night stand she had with Rafe – although perhaps a woman who was more streetwise would have done. The book also demonstrates the blurred line between complicity and victimhood. It’s a disturbing and violent book (Claire said she took out the violent parts, but it didn’t feel right or honest without them).
The title is clever too – The Book of You - it screams that this could so easily happen to any of us! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.
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