Publication Date: 21st Feb 2019
When the blog tour for The Secretary landed in my inbox I just knew I had to get involved. I’d read Disclaimer a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, so I was hopeful for more of the same gripping, twisty turny drama.
Christine Butcher is a woman who quietly and conscientiously gets things done. Employed as PA to Lord Appleton, owner of a supermarket chain, Christine catches the attention of Mina, Lord Appleton’s daughter with her determination and effortless efficiency.
As Lord Appleton’s health diminishes and time marches on, Mina is lined up to take over the running of Appleton’s with Christine as her ever faithful secretary.
Christine lives for the attention of Mina, a sparkling personality. Even when Mina takes the company in new and fresh directions, Christine rolls with it and makes herself indispensable. Mina becomes a TV cooking sensation with star studded pals and friends in high places, even at Number 10.
Christine tries to involve herself in the glamorous lifestyle, working her way into Mina’s affections, picking up after her, organising her life and desperately grateful for every scrap of attention Mina deigns to dish out.
When Mina’s business practices are called into question and the running of Appleton’s and it’s relationships with its produce suppliers is thrown under the spotlight, Christine’s loyalties are truly tested.
At the expense of her own family she works tirelessly for her employer, carrying out dubious tasks and not thinking to ask why.
But has Christine been pushed too far? And will she realise that loyalty is not always a two way street before it’s too late?
This book for me was a slow burner. Not in a bad way, tension was slowly built and there was a continuous undercurrent of unease.
The story is told from the first person perspective of Christine. She is telling the story from a present day point and looking back over her employment and the events that have led up to this point in time. There are lots of references along the way to small events that Christine didn’t know at the time would become very relevant in her life. Almost throw away, innocuous moments that all tie up at a later date.
There is a section just over halfway through which is mostly courtroom based and if I’m honest I’m not a fan of this in literature. However, it’s not too drawn out a section and it did form the basis for a lot of what happens next.
The end section of this book is where it really ramps up a pace! Chock full of suspense and agonising tension, the latter part will have your heart racing.
This is a twisty turny story of the intricacies of relationships, tested loyalties and the constant see-sawing of power. I love the idea that the secretary can be the most dangerous person in the room. The person who slots themselves seamlessly into the lives of the very powerful but has the potential themselves to bring the whole house of cards crashing down. A person who is trusted, relied upon, sometimes too much and who constantly has their ear to the ground and their eyes peeled.
Christine is definitely a fascinating character. I felt quite detached from her, but I must admit that there were times I really felt sorry for her. Particularly when Mina was being especially cold towards her.
If you’re after a thriller which builds slowly into a crescendo then I can certainly recommend this book. What an ending!
Thank you so much as always to the publisher for the review copy and thank you to Anne Cater for allowing me to be part of the blog tour.
See you soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat. Xxx