The Secretary
Renée Knight follows up her international sensation Disclaimer with this shivery tale of psychological suspense, featuring a character as disturbing and compelling as Mrs. Danvers in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.From her first day as Personal Assistant to the celebrated Mina Appleton, Christine Butcher understands what is expected of her. Absolute loyalty. Absolute discretion. For twenty years, Christine has been a most devoted servant, a silent witness to everything in Mina’s life. So quiet, you would hardly know she is there.Day after day, year after year, Christine has been there, invisible—watching, listening, absorbing all the secrets floating around her. Keeping them safe.Christine is trusted. But those years of loyalty and discretion come with a high price. And eventually Christina will pay.Yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate such a steadfast woman. Because as everyone is about to discover, there’s a dangerous line between obedience and obsession.

The Secretary Details

TitleThe Secretary
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 12th, 2019
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062362353
Rating
GenreThriller, Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Mystery Thriller

The Secretary Review

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Surprisingly unexpected!Christina Butcher is THE Mina Appleton’s personal assistant. Along with that comes high expectations. Complete loyalty. No slip-ups. Christina has been in this position for over twenty years, and she has it down to a science. She’s also absorbed every single secret Mina has. And Mina knows this. Christina may have been loyal, but she’s too big of a risk to keep around.At the same time, no one knows what Christina is capable of when she’s backed into a corner. The Secretar Surprisingly unexpected!Christina Butcher is THE Mina Appleton’s personal assistant. Along with that comes high expectations. Complete loyalty. No slip-ups. Christina has been in this position for over twenty years, and she has it down to a science. She’s also absorbed every single secret Mina has. And Mina knows this. Christina may have been loyal, but she’s too big of a risk to keep around.At the same time, no one knows what Christina is capable of when she’s backed into a corner. The Secretary is a slow burn, and I LOVED that about it. It is equal parts psychological thriller and courtroom drama. Everything about this felt real. The tension builds and builds, and bam! That ending! Why have I not read this author before? The Secretary is a refreshing take on the a character so disturbing you can’t stop cringing. Your mind will spin, and you won’t be able to put this book down. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    "Being a secretary back then was, it seems, not so different to now. That ability to make oneself invisible. It is astounding the number of conversations carried on in front of us, as if we don't exist. The silent witness is a role I'm quite used to. Watching, listening - as quiet as a mouse, at the heart of events - my loyalty and discretion never in question. And yet, loyalty and direction are qualities for which I have paid a heavy price." This is the story of Christine Butcher, an average w "Being a secretary back then was, it seems, not so different to now. That ability to make oneself invisible. It is astounding the number of conversations carried on in front of us, as if we don't exist. The silent witness is a role I'm quite used to. Watching, listening - as quiet as a mouse, at the heart of events - my loyalty and discretion never in question. And yet, loyalty and direction are qualities for which I have paid a heavy price." This is the story of Christine Butcher, an average wife and mother, who accepts the position of personal assistant to Mina Appleton. After 18 long years of service, loyalty, and absolute discretion it appears secrets are about to spill. When the celebrated Mina is accused of partaking in some unethical business transactions in order to profit for herself Christine has to ask herself how far she is willing to go to protect Mina. Part psychological thriller part court room drama and totally entertaining. I'll admit that it is a slow burn of a book but I find Renee Knights writing so engaging that it didn't take away from this novel. I had no idea before reading this how cutthroat the supermarket industry is. Another point goes to the author for writing a realistic thriller one where suspension of disbelief is not required. You know all the while that the story is leading up to something big and Renee Knight does not disappoint. The last quarter of this book had me glued to the pages. I thought the ending was bloody brilliant! 4 stars! Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • sue
    January 1, 1970
    Yet another book I’ve read by this author (the first being Disclaimer) which I thoroughly enjoyed.This one is much darker and much tenser. It is a slow burner of sorts but I’ve read worse. It’s easy to follow and what keeps you going is that you know something is going somewhere quite nasty or a boom bang coming! The Secretary and the role of Secretary has to be loyal and be able to keep things to yourself and much more than that at times. Sometimes you need to hide things, distract from informa Yet another book I’ve read by this author (the first being Disclaimer) which I thoroughly enjoyed.This one is much darker and much tenser. It is a slow burner of sorts but I’ve read worse. It’s easy to follow and what keeps you going is that you know something is going somewhere quite nasty or a boom bang coming! The Secretary and the role of Secretary has to be loyal and be able to keep things to yourself and much more than that at times. Sometimes you need to hide things, distract from information and say your boss is out or in a meeting when he/she is sat right in your vision, and much more.So on the basis of a job description I was looking forward to reading this having had a job like this myself in my lifetime. This is part psychological thriller and court room drama which I personally found very interesting.How this played out kept my interest.When Christine started working as a secretary to Mina it was somewhat creepy to me. Mina seemed creepy with the way she befriends Christine and the start of The secretarial relationship between them.When Mina becomes more demanding on Christine’s time it starts to disrupt her family and her family time. Then unethical procedures come to light earning more profit for Minas business. SecretsLiesWronged loyalties And a very dangerous line has now been drawn.I really loved this and enjoy this authors writing. I will certainly be eager for her next book.The ending though seemed a little bit too convenient to me.Well worth your time to read it.This was one of my anticipated books this year.
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  • Frank Phillips
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars for this one. Think, The Devil Wears Prada with a very dark, demented twist to it!!This was a VERY addictive thrilling read. It felt like 100 pages, I couldn't put it down. I will say I wish the ending had turned out differently, but altogether this was a great devious gem of a thriller, and I would recommend it to all fans of phychological suspense novels.
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  • Umut Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    I can describe this book as a really chatty mystery. It's told from one person's perspective, which is 'The Secretary', and whole book is her telling the events that lead to the end of this book. Christine is a secretary and starts to work for Mina, in her own family business. Mina is one of those very ambitious women, who thinks the world should revolve around her. Very manipulative, cold-hearted and she can do anything to reach what she wants. Christine is happily married with a daughter. She I can describe this book as a really chatty mystery. It's told from one person's perspective, which is 'The Secretary', and whole book is her telling the events that lead to the end of this book. Christine is a secretary and starts to work for Mina, in her own family business. Mina is one of those very ambitious women, who thinks the world should revolve around her. Very manipulative, cold-hearted and she can do anything to reach what she wants. Christine is happily married with a daughter. She becomes the personal assistant of Mina, and this changes her life in years. The book opens with Christine, who moved to a different location, and she starts to tell the story from the beginning. We don't know why she's telling, what she's going to do as a result of these. There lies the mystery. The rest of the book, till the very end is kind of a diary of Christine telling herself how their relationship with Mina progressed and how she became attached to her even a partner in crime. In my opinion this part was very long, very dialogue based. I had to skim read some parts. That's why I would recommend you this book if only you like books that are in diary style, where events progress very slowly. I gave this book 3 stars for 2 main reasons:1. It was too long for what it was definitely.2. I really don't think the writer developed the characters enough for us to believe and understand why they are who they are. You don't become a 'Mina' type out of the blue. Or even more so, what was Christine's motivation when she had a perfectly normal childhood and a happy current marriage. It didn't make sense and this was lacking. Other than that, I think the writer made a very good research. The writing was decent. But, I wish it was better paced, and more thrilling. Thanks a lot to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • ABookwormWithWine
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5The Secretary by Renée Knight might be on the slower side for some, but I was confused from the very beginning and it was great! What it's about: Christine Butcher has been Mina Appleton's secretary for over 18 years when Mina is accused of perverting justice and unlawful practice regarding the running of the family business, Appleton's supermarkets. Christine has been keeping Mina's secrets for years, and silently watching everything she does, but not always seeing Mina for what she is. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5The Secretary by Renée Knight might be on the slower side for some, but I was confused from the very beginning and it was great! What it's about: Christine Butcher has been Mina Appleton's secretary for over 18 years when Mina is accused of perverting justice and unlawful practice regarding the running of the family business, Appleton's supermarkets. Christine has been keeping Mina's secrets for years, and silently watching everything she does, but not always seeing Mina for what she is. Once the court case comes to a close though, that will all be about to change....The Secretary is told almost like a story, from Christine's perspective, and there isn't a whole lot of dialog between characters. You are inside her head the entire time and seeing everything from her eyes. This book is truly FULL of unlikable characters, and I was hard pressed to find anyone I really liked all that much. Mina is awful, and Christine is a doormat, until she's not. I am having a hard time categorizing this novel as a mystery, thriller, suspense, etc. There is a court case which had a procedural aspect, but overall I guess I would call this a psychological thriller since we are inside the head of Christine the entire time. Some people also said the end was either too crazy, or it was so crazy that it made the book, but I kinda saw what was coming. I liked the way Knight decided to end the novel, and I think it was a perfect fit for our character.Final Thought: While I definitely wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, I think a lot of people would like it. If you like a novel that's on the slower side with some courtroom drama, this is for you! While I didn't think it was especially slow personally, I can see how many would think it is. So my warning to you is be prepared for a slower book and you will be just fine. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Pauline
    January 1, 1970
    The Secretary by Renée Knight was an excellent thriller.Christine starts working as a secretary for Mina who is running her family business with her father. Mina becomes more demanding on Christine's time and this takes its toll on her family life as she is working longer hours and weekends and has to attend to Mina's every whim. Her job becomes the main focus and this has unfortunate consequences.I really enjoyed this book it was a real page turner.Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Tr The Secretary by Renée Knight was an excellent thriller.Christine starts working as a secretary for Mina who is running her family business with her father. Mina becomes more demanding on Christine's time and this takes its toll on her family life as she is working longer hours and weekends and has to attend to Mina's every whim. Her job becomes the main focus and this has unfortunate consequences.I really enjoyed this book it was a real page turner.Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mandy White
    January 1, 1970
    The Secretary by Renee Knight was a bit of a slow burn, taking a while before much really happened. But when it did my goodness it really did. There is a lot of build up of the main characters which all comes into it in the second half of the book so it is worth sticking with it. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about the ending though... maybe it was too easy to end it that way?Christine Butcher is a secretary working for Mina Appleton for 18 years. The 2 women are the complete opposite The Secretary by Renee Knight was a bit of a slow burn, taking a while before much really happened. But when it did my goodness it really did. There is a lot of build up of the main characters which all comes into it in the second half of the book so it is worth sticking with it. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about the ending though... maybe it was too easy to end it that way?Christine Butcher is a secretary working for Mina Appleton for 18 years. The 2 women are the complete opposite of each other. Christine is the quiet, constant, wanting to please Mina in anyway. But how far will she go to protect her boss? She works long hours, often at the expense of her personal life. Mina on the other hand is a manipulative, power and money hungry women who will stop at nothing for success. The story jumps from the present to the past in alternative chapters, telling the story of these 2 women.Thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and Doubleday for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    The Secretary, Ms Knight's second novel, is a tale of sacrifice, power, betrayal, obsession, loyalty, revenge and office politics with acute observations that set it apart from similar books. The writing is scalpel sharp, but this is slow burn suspense so anyone expecting fast-paced shenanigans might want to look elsewhere. With superb characterisation and a riveting plot, this is a great read. It's a cleverly written, entertaining and exciting tale which somewhat reflects the dog-eat-dog nature The Secretary, Ms Knight's second novel, is a tale of sacrifice, power, betrayal, obsession, loyalty, revenge and office politics with acute observations that set it apart from similar books. The writing is scalpel sharp, but this is slow burn suspense so anyone expecting fast-paced shenanigans might want to look elsewhere. With superb characterisation and a riveting plot, this is a great read. It's a cleverly written, entertaining and exciting tale which somewhat reflects the dog-eat-dog nature of Christine's environment. There is a slightly sinister undertone running for the duration of the story, and you never knew quite what was going to occur next.Although the two main characters, Mina and Christine, are not particularly likeable individuals I felt their personalities worked well. They were constantly rubbing each other up the wrong way and the manipulation of Christine created sizzling suspense. That said, I do feel as though it could've benefited from being shorter in length which would have tightened it up a little, and some of the plot became far-fetched, but overall, this didn't detract from the captivating story. I look forward to picking up Knight's next novel and hope it will be just as interesting as this was.Many thanks to Doubleday for an ARC.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I’m completely torn about my feelings on this one, on one hand it was a quick, addictive read that I flew through quickly. But on the other hand, it was just so damn weird that I’m not even sure I can explain it to you, but I’ll try!This is told entirely from the POV of the secretary, Christine and focuses solely on her relationship with her boss, Mina. There is very little dialogue, it’s more of one long stream of Christine’s inner monologue with occasional conversations. It was just an odd set I’m completely torn about my feelings on this one, on one hand it was a quick, addictive read that I flew through quickly. But on the other hand, it was just so damn weird that I’m not even sure I can explain it to you, but I’ll try!This is told entirely from the POV of the secretary, Christine and focuses solely on her relationship with her boss, Mina. There is very little dialogue, it’s more of one long stream of Christine’s inner monologue with occasional conversations. It was just an odd setup, but I didn’t hate it and I kept reading so the author did something right. Parts of it also felt a bit tedious too, there was a lot of mundane recalls of memories as Christine tells the story of how she began working for Mina eighteen years ago, but somehow I knew that this would all lead up to something big.In the end, as much as I knew something was going to happen, otherwise why all of history, right? But I had zero idea as to what that would be. Let me tell you, it wasn’t anything I would’ve ever come up with on my own. It was a little off the rails and out there, extreme to the max. I still don’t know if it worked for me or not?! It’s memorable for sure though. I know this is an extremely wishy washy and probably entirely unhelpful review, but this was just a peculiar read for me. I can’t say I loved or hated it, so I can’t fully recommend it either.Overall rating: 3/5 (I debated doing a 2.5, but I did cruise through it and she is a good writer so…)
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  • Kathryn in FL
    January 1, 1970
    This story had me reliving some of my past experiences with narcissistic bosses, it was so realistic and yet, ominous, foreboding and insidious as well. Christina becomes a personal assistant to Mina Appleton, the soon to be CEO of a UK supermarket chain and her nature is very dark, pathological and perhaps psychopathic but you be the judge. Christina is a decent secretary with little or no experience (it was vague). She is young and financially struggling. She believes this job is the answer to This story had me reliving some of my past experiences with narcissistic bosses, it was so realistic and yet, ominous, foreboding and insidious as well. Christina becomes a personal assistant to Mina Appleton, the soon to be CEO of a UK supermarket chain and her nature is very dark, pathological and perhaps psychopathic but you be the judge. Christina is a decent secretary with little or no experience (it was vague). She is young and financially struggling. She believes this job is the answer to her prayers. She and her husband (who assembles furniture for a living) and her young daughter had little hope for their future, until she is offered a gorgeous salary that she can not refuse. Little does she know her dream job will become a nightmare leading to the loss of all that is truly important.Mina inherits her position from her father, Lord Appleton who built his little kingdom with transparency and integrity which won loyalty from suppliers and customers alike. They epitomized the example of a Good Corporate Citizen. Mina promises that she will continue this legacy but she does nothing of the sort. Instead, Mina enacts a devious ploy to make money off the backs of other people's efforts. Christina, the codependent, people pleaser becomes integral in carrying out Mina's exploits. She dismisses her personal qualms because she is in great awe of Mina. She also likes her subtle power. Mina's pathological plotting is displayed to the reader via's Christina's recounting of various incident and she realizes that other leaders in the company are also complicit. They too played key roles in the activities that bring about accusations of Mina's slight of hand dirty dealings. Mina wanting to clear her name, so she sues a behemoth business newspaper for its expose of her betrayals. She wins her case and she continues on in her agenda. Several years later, Mina, Christina and chauffeur David are all arrested by the authorities for the assisting Mina in committing perjury in the lawsuit against the newspaper. The trial ensues and part of Mina's strategy is portraying Christina as a power hungry juggernaut, who operated independent of Mina's awareness and this is why many inconsistencies shown by the prosecution is actually an invalid witch-hunt. After the trial, Christina realizes she was a pawn. She had been duped. Her desire to serve made her to sublimate any curiosity or concerns on her part. She's lost everything, even her integrity for filthy lucre. This causes her to have an emotional breakdown. However, we don't realize until late in the novel that Christina's rehash of events profoundly affects her desperate state. The novel concludes in a rather shocking manner. We realize Christina is unstable but we don't expect the very intricate twist the author, Ms. Knight delivers.As I read this story, I felt Ms. Knight had perhaps drawn insights from a narcissistic person in her own life. I would be curious if this story was based on a specific event(s) (though not the ending) as it sounds like several business trials in the United States' past; after all, corruption and diabolical deals happening in the business world is nothing new. Likewise, it is not unusual for someone to be identified as the primary creator of the problems, often not the key player as the prosecution identifies. This book reminds me of the movie, "Swimming with Sharks". The boss played by Kevin Spacey is in some aspects far more pathological towards his employee. I remember watching it and saying to a friend, that man (Spacey) isn't acting, that is who he is! The bosses' arrogance captures the true narcissist's nature. Mina embodies this as well. This story is a keeper. If you like to reread stories that capture the essence of a place, a time, or a characteristic, this embodies the narcissist personality perfectly.
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  • JULIE ☼
    January 1, 1970
    This story is about Christine Butcher who surrenders her family in her support of Mina Appleton, a business woman and local celebrity/television personality. What she fails to realize is that her devotion for Mina may not be reciprocated. While Christine is everything one looks for in a Secretary—discrete and loyal—she ultimately shows herself as a woman not to be crossed.  Love and loyalty sometimes  come at a cost, does it not?I’m perplexed with my feeling on this one. This read like the diary This story is about Christine Butcher who surrenders her family in her support of Mina Appleton, a business woman and local celebrity/television personality. What she fails to realize is that her devotion for Mina may not be reciprocated. While Christine is everything one looks for in a Secretary—discrete and loyal—she ultimately shows herself as a woman not to be crossed.  Love and loyalty sometimes  come at a cost, does it not?I’m perplexed with my feeling on this one. This read like the diary pages of Christine, not in the literal sense... that's just the vibe I got reading this from her perspective. I had a strong dislike for the two main characters. I found Mina to be an entitled brat and Christine to be a very disturbed woman. This greatly added to the difficulty I experienced in my desire to pick this book up long after I had put it down. The first half of this novel left me with a large lack of enthusiasm to press on. Although the first half of this novel came very slow, I was very pleased when it picked up in the second half with an arrested and trial—roughly 50% in—peaking my interest heavily. Truth be told I’m a sucker for courtroom suspense, which is no surprise given my chosen profession—paralegal, by the way. “SELF-CONTROL IS VITAL IN MY WORK, AND I WOULD ADVISE ANYONE THINKING OF ENTERING MY PROFESSION TO BEAR THAT IN MIND. THERE ARE MANY OCCASIONS WHEN ONE IS REQUIRED TO HOLD ONE’S TONGUE.” I flew by every page that offer testimony regarding the legal implications which Mina was alleged to be facing. But wait, the buildup in suspense did not stop there! At the conclusion of the trial, I was just as obsessed with finding out what Christine’s next move would be as she was with Mina. Renée Knight does not disappoint with the action-packed drama all the way to the end and the twist I missed from page one. I won’t give anything away but when you start figuring out what exactly is going on in Christine’s head, this book becomes a real gem. And can we talk about that ending? It came by complete surprise and will definitely stay with you long after. Overall, I’m glad I didn’t give up on this read.Many thanks to Harper and Renée Knight for gifting me finished copy of this novel.My reviews can also be found on my blog: thrillmechillme.com
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    DNF it was far to slow for me and some of it made no sense. A disappointing read.
  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Renée Knight, a graduate of Faber’s Writing a Novel course first came to the reading public notice with 2015's Disclaimer that was generally well received with its original storyline and creative plots. Unfortunately, this novel was released around the same time as The Girl on the Train that meant numerous comparisons although in my humble opinion Knight's debut was superior. Fast forward to 2019 and we have the follow-up. When Christine Butcher is offered a job by Mina Appleton who is poised to Renée Knight, a graduate of Faber’s Writing a Novel course first came to the reading public notice with 2015's Disclaimer that was generally well received with its original storyline and creative plots. Unfortunately, this novel was released around the same time as The Girl on the Train that meant numerous comparisons although in my humble opinion Knight's debut was superior. Fast forward to 2019 and we have the follow-up. When Christine Butcher is offered a job by Mina Appleton who is poised to take over her father's supermarket supplier empire she will jump at the chance. Christine is loyal and will go out of her way to attend to Mina's needs and is mesmerized her bosses generosity. There is seemingly nothing Christine will not do for Mina even if it means destroying her own marriage and being complicit to some highly illegal activities by her boss who deliberately forces former customers bankrupt then uses shell companies to buy then reap the profits of the farms.This was all compelling and disturbing with the behavior of Mina and to a less degree Christine. But where there was a disconnect for me when first why it took so long for Christine to grow a conscience with what was happening and when it did leave me questioning how such an individual who for the most part blends into background can be transformed in such a dramatic way. Sure even the quietest an individual can surprise when provoked but this is something else and comes of hard to believe. When reading the novel it is not hard to interpret this as a road to destruction. Flimsy characterization is saved by the writing that is first class and is the sought of book that I could see made into either a miniseries or movie.
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  • Miriam Smith
    January 1, 1970
    "The Secretary" is Renee Knight's second novel and after reading and enjoying "Disclaimer", I was particularly looking forward to reading this part court room drama part psychological thriller.Although rather a slow burn due to there not being much dialogue and told through Christine Butcher- the secretary's recollections and present day events, I did enjoy reading this contemporary thriller and was actually quite addicted to it. Having been a secretary/PA myself during my working career I could "The Secretary" is Renee Knight's second novel and after reading and enjoying "Disclaimer", I was particularly looking forward to reading this part court room drama part psychological thriller.Although rather a slow burn due to there not being much dialogue and told through Christine Butcher- the secretary's recollections and present day events, I did enjoy reading this contemporary thriller and was actually quite addicted to it. Having been a secretary/PA myself during my working career I could relate to a lot of what Christine was expected to do and can imagine her being privy to a lot of sensitive and confidential information would make her feel very important and indispensable. Christine is utterly loyal and devoted to her work and employer. When being at the beck and call of the famous Mina Appleton (owner of Appleton Supermarkets) 24/7 disrupts her private life, she ends up losing her family. However, when she starts to realise she's no more than a cog in Mina's ambitious wheel, how far will she take her loyalty and revenge.......Christine and Mina both are very unlikeable but that's what makes the story so good, not knowing who is the most reliable witness. Christine has little or no backbone in standing up to Mina and Mina herself is a selfish and arrogant woman working in the cut throat world of supermarket ownership. The ending was a little predictable as the story developed but it did fit the conclusion of the story well and although I suspect this thriller won't be for every one since it is such a slow burn, it will still be well received by the psychological thriller reading audience and I'd happily recommend it to them. 4 stars
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  • Tracy Shephard
    January 1, 1970
    This is a whopper of a tale..The loyalty between employer and employee is one that works both ways, and in this tale we see how the relationship between Mina and Christine shifts and changes and ultimately shows just who is in charge.Mina has inherited Appleton's from her late father but her way of doing things is powered by money and success rather than fairness and friendship.Christine is a experienced and loyal secretary, she knows all Mina's secrets and has even covered up a few misdemeanors This is a whopper of a tale..The loyalty between employer and employee is one that works both ways, and in this tale we see how the relationship between Mina and Christine shifts and changes and ultimately shows just who is in charge.Mina has inherited Appleton's from her late father but her way of doing things is powered by money and success rather than fairness and friendship.Christine is a experienced and loyal secretary, she knows all Mina's secrets and has even covered up a few misdemeanors for her.Renee Knight is a terrific storyteller. This novel has an explosive plot. Twisty and clever it is a gripping and riveting read. I loved the first book Disclaimer, and while this is a slower paced read it is a worthy successor. I was hooked. Filled with drama, it is a creepy and suspenseful novel. The cast of characters are just amazing and as the story unfolded I found myself wide eyed at the lies, the deception and most of the fabulous finale. $4*/5 
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  • Rachel Hall
    January 1, 1970
    Loyalty, discretion and betrayal in the workplace.. creepy psycho thriller & courtroom drama..An outdated title belies an utterly riveting story of discretion and loyalty between the eponymous secretary and boss at the head office of a supermarket chain that builds to a creepy battle of power games and a courtroom betrayal before a stylish denouement. Forty-three-year-old secretary for twenty years, Christine Butcher, narrates an atmospheric tale, laden with foreshadowing and ominous signs o Loyalty, discretion and betrayal in the workplace.. creepy psycho thriller & courtroom drama..An outdated title belies an utterly riveting story of discretion and loyalty between the eponymous secretary and boss at the head office of a supermarket chain that builds to a creepy battle of power games and a courtroom betrayal before a stylish denouement. Forty-three-year-old secretary for twenty years, Christine Butcher, narrates an atmospheric tale, laden with foreshadowing and ominous signs of what is to come from her room at The Laurels, a place where she has found sanctuary. As she attempts to put the past in order and make sense of the events of 2012 which briefly took her into the headlines she concedes that she made some questionable choices and paid a heavy price for those decisions. Compiling a scrapbook of defining moments throughout almost eighteen years as secretary to ambitious and media friendly, Mina Appleton, the story charts her life as right-hand woman to a powerful and ruthless businesswoman and the reader gets to see the evolution of the women’s relationship.Beginning the job after a spell as a temp Christine rises to the side of Mina, as she replaces her father, Lord Appleton, at the helm of Appleton’s and swiftly sets in motion a subtle shift in the companies business plan. Beguiled by twenty-five-year-old Mina, Christine devotes herself to her employers every need, taking a holistic approach to organising her work and home life with an obsessive and flawless efficiency. As the older woman fails to see any wrong in her boss, submits to each and every demand and is subtlety manipulated into kowtowing to Mina’s whims she eventually sacrifices her kitchen fitter husband, Mike, and four-year-old daughter, Angelica, in the process. But in her years by Mina’s side Christine bears witness to everyone of her employers underhand tricks and is the silent witness to what she assumes in a relationship of complete mutual trust. Never making the mistake of thinking herself a friend, Christine takes pride in Mina’s success and feels she is valued and regarded as important as she plays her own part in enabling her boss to appear as a cool and confident operator in the business arena.But a secretary’s discretion comes with the assumption of loyalty, and when things get hairy at Appleton’s and Mina business practices that fail to reflect the fair trade and ethical status of the brand are called into question, Christine doesn’t doubt her boss for a second. But as push comes to shove and someone has to take the fall, how far does the loyalty go? And what price is there for the ultimate betrayal?Engrossing from start to finish and a suspense that was far less slow burn for me than it appears for other readers as the story had me on tenterhooks from the off! Mina is all “soft edges” and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, however it is the flawed and admirably honest narrator, Christine, who takes the plaudits in some supreme characterisation by Renée Knight. Christine’s descriptions of life as an awestruck and obsequious minion to Mina and subsequent reflection makes for a truly memorable read and whilst I found both lead protagonists difficult to like, there was no doubt who I was vying for as the tension was ratcheted up in a dramatic finale of ultimate revenge!Excellent characterisation, slick foreshadowing and a twisted battle that ends outside the courtroom! Brilliant stuff!
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    A clever and entertaining slow burn suspense. Christine Butcher is the secretary to Mina Appleton, serving her loyally, retaining her trust and discretion for 18 years. During her time with Mina she is entrusted with many secrets and is witness to confidential discussions around her, as though she does not exist. Mina makes vast demands upon Christine's time and personal sacrifices are made to rise to those demands of Mina.'There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like A clever and entertaining slow burn suspense. Christine Butcher is the secretary to Mina Appleton, serving her loyally, retaining her trust and discretion for 18 years. During her time with Mina she is entrusted with many secrets and is witness to confidential discussions around her, as though she does not exist. Mina makes vast demands upon Christine's time and personal sacrifices are made to rise to those demands of Mina.'There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .'What I loved about this book were the characters. Though not particularly likeable, they worked so well with the story and the plot was entirely realistic. I didn't have to suspend my belief in order to enjoy this novel, which I love. While I felt that perhaps Knight could have taken Mina's character a little darker, I really enjoyed her writing and the fantastic twist. I look forward to her future novels.A big thank you to @netgalley #reneeknight and @penguinrhuk for this advance reader, in return for my honest review. Publication date for this one is 21 February 2019.
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  • Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for a free copy of this book for review. This book was an intriguing psychological drama. The story is told by Christine who becomes Mina’s personal assistant. She stays in her employ for 20 years with Mina making more and more demands. Christine does her job in a quiet, efficient, unobtrusive way and since she works so closely with Mina she is also aware of many of her secrets. Christine is so involved with her job that she loses her marriage and daughter in t Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for a free copy of this book for review. This book was an intriguing psychological drama. The story is told by Christine who becomes Mina’s personal assistant. She stays in her employ for 20 years with Mina making more and more demands. Christine does her job in a quiet, efficient, unobtrusive way and since she works so closely with Mina she is also aware of many of her secrets. Christine is so involved with her job that she loses her marriage and daughter in the process. This gives her even more free time to be at Mina’s side and to meet her increasing and endless demands. Mina runs into legal trouble through her work dealings and Christine gets drag into the legal case too. With the thought that she could go to jail Christine has to make some decisions about her own life. This book was a great character driven story. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed my time with them.
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  • Joanne Robertson
    January 1, 1970
    This was another book that I had been really looking forward to after reading Disclaimer some time ago. And it was one that I seemed to read a lot slower than I normally would with a book I was desperate to devour. That probably had a lot to do with the way in which The Secretary was written, with a slowly built storyline that spent time developing the character and mindset of Christine Butcher in her role as personal secretary to Mina Appleton, a well known “celebrity”. I found that I wanted to This was another book that I had been really looking forward to after reading Disclaimer some time ago. And it was one that I seemed to read a lot slower than I normally would with a book I was desperate to devour. That probably had a lot to do with the way in which The Secretary was written, with a slowly built storyline that spent time developing the character and mindset of Christine Butcher in her role as personal secretary to Mina Appleton, a well known “celebrity”. I found that I wanted to really take my time so that I didn’t miss any of the pointers that lead me towards understanding the decisions that she made and how those decisions evolved over the years until a very different Christine stands before us. Plus it was so chilling, I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages-“car crash” fiction at its best!!Renee Knight writes such beautifully expressive prose that I became completely and utterly involved in the life and character of Christine. I found her journey, from being discovered and interviewed by her future employer to being Nina’s trusted but not completely involved confidant, a fascinating one from start to finish. It’s a very detailed narrative, developing over a number of years as we watch Christine gain confidence in her role, until we realise that this job has now become her entire life so she needs to do whatever it takes to keep it that way. I’ve always been fascinated by what attracts an employer to certain applicants and here I do think that the Christine who starts her job has a certain quality that is spotted by her future boss. She seems easily flattered and her eagerness to please is often exploited but even though she’s not the most likeable of characters, I did find myself sympathetic towards her plight. I think the method in which the author gradually explored and developed the relationship between boss/employee, as the power shifted from one to the other, was very clever indeed as was the ending which formed the perfect conclusion to the misshapen circle of loyalty that surrounded them.Dark, complex and devious , I was gripped throughout this book, with my own loyalties barely balancing on the high wire of trust, unable to decide which way to descent. Christine wasn’t always likeable due to her actions but that didn’t spoil my utter pleasure in my own voyeuristic examination of her innermost self.Fabulous book and well worth the wait!
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  • Ludwig
    January 1, 1970
    "It was the truth that seemed to catch me out. Lies, I managed with fluency."The Secretary is about a woman named Christine Butcher who was hired to work as a personal assistant for Mina Appleton - the head of an ethical supermarket chain.The plot is told from Christine's perspective, through which we get to see the relationship sinisterly develop between her and Mina. It becomes obvious that our protagonist isn't in safe territory, that she only fell victim to her boss' manipulative conduct.The "It was the truth that seemed to catch me out. Lies, I managed with fluency."The Secretary is about a woman named Christine Butcher who was hired to work as a personal assistant for Mina Appleton - the head of an ethical supermarket chain.The plot is told from Christine's perspective, through which we get to see the relationship sinisterly develop between her and Mina. It becomes obvious that our protagonist isn't in safe territory, that she only fell victim to her boss' manipulative conduct.The 1st half of the book features the relationship between Christine and her employer Mina - the women at the heart of the story, and how the latter represents an unhealthy influence on our protagonist, who is oblivious of the danger that her employer represents.The 2nd half is divided into a courtroom drama, and the aftermath of Christine's coming to terms with the world she was actually living in, and how it led her to end up in her current ordeal.I felt so invested in Christine's character, possibly because of the elusiveness that seems to characterize her. She is loyal to her employer, she knows all the jaw-dropping secrets that Mina confides in her, and she will sacrifice everything in order to keep them. The writing is almost hypnotizing; it grips you wholly and doesn't let go.There's a major plus to Christine's character; as we get to see the way she thinks and acts, all of this is attempted to be justified in a way where we're taken back to her childhood so that we witness the traumatizing events that happened to her during that time of her life. However, the nature-vs-nurture aspect wasn't quite thoroughly explained when it came to the main heroines, and I was longing for that during the whole book because I especially needed to understand Christine's behavior. Why does she act/feel the way that she does in the present day?Other than that, I loved this book, and I think the ending was incredible, unpredictable and clever!PS: An animal was ill-treated by one of the characters in one brief paragraph; I felt like that was such an unnecessary/appalling event to include in the book.
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  • Jiny S
    January 1, 1970
    This is a character study of Christine, number one secretary of the famous Mina Appleton, head of the Appleton supermarket chain, well known public figure with her own cooking show, and titan in her own right. Christine gives everything to her job, and she is very good at it. But at some point, the law and her own integrity clashes with Mina’s aspirations and Christine’s alacrity to please her employer’s every wish. And as the cover suggests, this places Christine is a very unique position, as h This is a character study of Christine, number one secretary of the famous Mina Appleton, head of the Appleton supermarket chain, well known public figure with her own cooking show, and titan in her own right. Christine gives everything to her job, and she is very good at it. But at some point, the law and her own integrity clashes with Mina’s aspirations and Christine’s alacrity to please her employer’s every wish. And as the cover suggests, this places Christine is a very unique position, as her employer fights in court for her reputation and her freedom, Christine fights herself to realize what is the thing that she cared for the most in her life. Mina is her employer, and their relationship is intimate and vastly unbalanced in power. This is the story about what happens when that power is tried and tipped.As the story progresses along, the protagonist’s world crumbles around her- first goes her family, then her job, and finally her sanity. Her story is a torrential of emotions. It’s not even betrayal, it’s just the helpless feeling of being taken advantage by someone powerful. You knew it’s going to turn out this way, but you can’t help but still have that sliver of hope that perhaps they will return a fraction of your feelings, your respect, your willingness to do anything for them, and to have wishful thinking crushed by the icy, impersonal reality will always cut, even if you never expected any better.The author played the power dynamic very well, especially near the end. The sacrifice was one-sided from the beginning, but the emotional tipping scale became erratic at the end. We see the protagonist abasing herself in front of Mina’s mother, despite herself, and owing nothing to that vain woman; and then we witness the way she treating the stray cat. Maybe it was only manifestation of stress; maybe she liked the taste of that.The betrayal the protagonist felt in the end is no doubt devastating. And the reader is left wondering if she was driven to madness by the devastation, or the devastation was compounded by her obsession. The lines are slurred when the protagonist’s narrative began to blur the lines. It was masterfully done by the author, feeding each one into the other creating a downward spiral of emotional breakdown. There was a twist in the end, and I’m still reflecting on the decisions the protagonist made. Perhaps it’s more suitable- revenge doesn’t have to be so final, and a scar and a dark memory can leave a more lasting mark.I absolutely love this story, maybe because I really enjoy stories with stark power imbalances. Some reader might focus on the ending, which is still good in its finality. But for me, the way Christine contemplating the state of her employ was worth reading just by itself.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    DNF around 30%. I just couldn't get into this one. It's awfully slow, which isn't necessarily bad, but I just wasn't interested in either Christine or Mina, or what seemed to me very boring political machinations at a supermarket company.
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com The Secretary is a brilliant blend of tension, suspense and courtroom drama. It's a story which I read with an impending sense of doom... you know from early on that it all goes terribly wrong for secretary Christine, who takes a personal assistant job with the demanding but high profile Mina Appleton - to the detriment of her own personal relationships and, it seems, her peace of mind.The story flicks between the past narrative, when we learn what happened in Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com The Secretary is a brilliant blend of tension, suspense and courtroom drama. It's a story which I read with an impending sense of doom... you know from early on that it all goes terribly wrong for secretary Christine, who takes a personal assistant job with the demanding but high profile Mina Appleton - to the detriment of her own personal relationships and, it seems, her peace of mind.The story flicks between the past narrative, when we learn what happened in the lead up to the 'present' story, when Christine is dealing with the aftermath of a situation that does not seem to have ended well.Renee Knight's writing is so absorbing that, despite some of this novel moving at a slower pace with perhaps less 'action', it's still utterly addictive. It doesn't need to rely on crazy occurances; what happens with Mina is twisted but at the same time believable - a testament to Knight's storytelling skills! The whole story is told with style - and what a great ending!I haven't read her other high-profile novel, Disclaimer, but I've heard brilliant things, and reading The Secretary only makes me want to read everything by her.Many thanks to Transworld for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.
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  • ❤️
    January 1, 1970
    The Secretary is an interesting book, for a few reasons. It's advertised as being a thriller, but it's actually a lot more like a blend of a contemporary drama at the start, a courtroom drama in the middle, and the thriller it's touted as by the end. It's not an especially exciting story, but it is still compulsively readable. It is slightly cliche with regards to the protagonist and antagonist being a powerful woman in charge and her seemingly meek sidekick, which has become so commonplace in " The Secretary is an interesting book, for a few reasons. It's advertised as being a thriller, but it's actually a lot more like a blend of a contemporary drama at the start, a courtroom drama in the middle, and the thriller it's touted as by the end. It's not an especially exciting story, but it is still compulsively readable. It is slightly cliche with regards to the protagonist and antagonist being a powerful woman in charge and her seemingly meek sidekick, which has become so commonplace in "thrillers" these days, but the unique setting (the strange world of a giant supermarket chain's head office) offered a big enough breath of fresh air that it didn't bog the book down with that tiresome feeling of reading the same ol' same ol'.My only real con of the book is that I felt as though the two main characters weren't developed quite enough to fully justify the end. Don't get me wrong, they are fascinating women - and for very different reasons - but I never felt like I was confident as a reader in understanding why they were the way they were and thus why they conducted themselves in the manners that they did throughout the story. On a positive note though, this didn't cause the story to have any major plotholes, which can often be the case when underdeveloped characters are mixed into an intricate plot such as the one found in The Secretary, especially when illegal and mysterious activities are brought into the mix.Overall, I thought this was a pretty enjoyable read, albeit nothing extraordinarily special. I breezed through it in just two nights and was eager to see where the two women of this story, Christine (the secretary) and Mina (the boss), would find themselves and how the huge differences in power and the strange relationship it created between the two would influence their behaviour, but I can't imagine it'll make my end of the year list of favourite 2019 releases. I came away from the book feeling rather stunned and kind of sad, which was quite different to how I imagined I'd feel. But, because I'm not about spoilers, you'd have to read the book yourself to find out why.
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  • Kris - My Novelesque Life
    January 1, 1970
    RATING: 4 STARS2019; Harper/Harper CollinsAfter reading a few disappointing suspense novels in a row, I almost passed on this one to take a break to cleanse my palate. When my audiobook hold came in, the hold list seemed long so I went ahead and decided to try it. The Secretary drew me right in and I didn't realize how much I was really into the story until I finished. "What? It's done?" While I wasn't completely thrilled with the ending, I still liked this novel a lot. It's a slow burn psycholo RATING: 4 STARS2019; Harper/Harper CollinsAfter reading a few disappointing suspense novels in a row, I almost passed on this one to take a break to cleanse my palate. When my audiobook hold came in, the hold list seemed long so I went ahead and decided to try it. The Secretary drew me right in and I didn't realize how much I was really into the story until I finished. "What? It's done?" While I wasn't completely thrilled with the ending, I still liked this novel a lot. It's a slow burn psychological suspense, that is rightly compared to Rebecca. This a modern take on the relationship between Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca (mistress of an estate and her faithful housekeeper), set in a business world. A secretary/housekeeper/assistance stays in the background, she is barely noticed unless things go wrong. They are the ones that know how it all works and keeps it working...and they know, and mostly keep, the secrets that threaten their employer. This is the person you never want to piss off, but are often overlooked, taken for granted and thought to be replaceable. As this story moves slowly, told through "the secretary," Christine's point of view, you do see some things coming before they take place and are predictable. But being so invested in Christine, her effort and wanting to see how it unfolds you will feel the enthrall of the story. This book pulled me away from other things just to see what is happening next. I might be in the minority with this one but I really liked it.***I received an eARC from EDELWEISS***My Novelesque Blog
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  • 4cats
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Renee Knight's first novel, Disclaimer and have been waiting for her second to be published since 2015. Was it worth the wait....yes it was.The novel is told from Christine Butcher's perspective and moves from the present to the past with ease. Christine is hired by Mina Appleton, the daughter of Lord Appleton who founded Appleton Supermarkets. Lord Appleton is a principled man and has created a business which treats its' suppliers fairly. However, when Mina takes over things changed. Mi I loved Renee Knight's first novel, Disclaimer and have been waiting for her second to be published since 2015. Was it worth the wait....yes it was.The novel is told from Christine Butcher's perspective and moves from the present to the past with ease. Christine is hired by Mina Appleton, the daughter of Lord Appleton who founded Appleton Supermarkets. Lord Appleton is a principled man and has created a business which treats its' suppliers fairly. However, when Mina takes over things changed. Mina is a celebrity, a business woman and has friends in high places. As her 'number one' secretary, Christine puts her work life before her home life and sees the private Mina, and more importantly is involved in the secrets of the new Appletons.This is a twisted thriller with a difference, it's intelligent, the characters are believable and the plot moves along with pace.
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  • Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
    January 1, 1970
    Disappointing and slow.
  • Inge van weegen
    January 1, 1970
    Het is een goed verhaal maar als je een thriller verwacht...dan moet je tot het einde lezen
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    "Offices are full of deceit, aren't they?"3.5⭐The Secretary is the second office-related drama that I've read & enjoyed recently, so apparently this is a setting I'm interested in. I liked the setup for this book - you can tell right away that something has gone wrong & you're about to see things go downhill. It added some tension to the story since you knew in advance that things weren't going to go well. I feel like this book could have been a little darker than it was. It has a The De "Offices are full of deceit, aren't they?"3.5⭐The Secretary is the second office-related drama that I've read & enjoyed recently, so apparently this is a setting I'm interested in. I liked the setup for this book - you can tell right away that something has gone wrong & you're about to see things go downhill. It added some tension to the story since you knew in advance that things weren't going to go well. I feel like this book could have been a little darker than it was. It has a The Devil Wears Prada vibe, but Miranda is significantly more terrifying than Mina. It was just a little too light for my taste...until the end, which just felt a little far-fetched.The timeline is a little strange - this book covers 18 years, but it really doesn't feel like it. Since part of it is a courtroom drama, some earlier moments are gone over again, and it was difficult to judge when things happened. It felt like months, or maybe a few years, but it was really almost 20 years. There was some random mistreatment of an animal that I didn't really care for. It felt out of place, and I would have enjoyed the story more without it. Although I had some issues, I was pretty invested in The Secretary. It's a slow burn, but it held my attention. I think I would try another book from this author. Thank you to Harper for sending me a copy. The Secretary will be out on 2/12.
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