Monday, February 4, 2019

The Secretary by Renee Knight

I've read so many husband-wife thrillers over the past few years it was refreshing to read a thriller that took place in a work environment; one that is between a female executive and her personal assistant. Office power struggles take on a whole new meaning in The Secretary.  

Told from the perspective of Christine Butcher, PA to Mina Appleton, we are looking back with Christine over the past 18 years of her life working for Mina. What started out as a seemingly innocent opportunity for a full-time job with great pay and benefits turned into a nightmare for Christine. A nightmare that cost her her marriage and her family, and left her completely reliant on Mina and her job as the only things that mattered in her life. 

You, as the reader, know from the beginning that something bad has happened, and Christine spends most of the novel giving you  plenty of foreshadowing. Mina is a manipulative, conniving, horrible woman who--you guessed it--puts on a face for the public that has everyone convinced she's actually a warm, wonderful, brilliant executive for her family's grocery company, Appleton's. Mina does what it takes to kick her father (the founder of the company) out of the business, and take it over in order to become one of the top grocery chains in England. Christine is along for the ride, making sure Mina's every wish, demand, and desire are taken care of; Christine will do whatever she has to in order to stay on Mina's good side. Unfortunately for Christine, she's just being used and falls for Mina's manipulative ways. She realizes too late just what Mina will do and who she'll ruin in order to keep herself on top. 

It's easy to see how loving your job can evolve into something that occupies more and more of your time. We've all done that at some point in our lives. At first, I got Christine's desire to prove herself indispensable and wanting to give her all. But after her marriage ends, and her relationship with her daughter grows distant, I felt alarmed and desperately wanted Christine to wake up! 

It takes a public humiliation before Christine wakes up, but she eventually does. And when she does, hoo boy, Mina has no idea what's about to happen. The ending may surprise some; for others, it may seem over the top. How far would you go to destroy someone who destroyed you?

Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an advanced copy of this novel. It's definitely a thriller, and a look at the art of manipulation. It's a quick read; I read it in one day and couldn't put it down. 

Available in the U.S. on February 12 in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Rating: 4/6 for a different kind of relationship-thriller-drama; this time it takes place in the business world. A novel of loyalty, manipulation, and revenge. 

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