...the story of Christine, PA to Mina, a supermarket chain CEO whose likeable public image belies possibly sociopathic ruthlessness. Writing in retrospect after some form of downfall for both women, Christine traces the course of their relationship — she obsessively, militantly protective of her employer’s secrets, Mina increasingly under strain after she sues a journalist for libelling her in an exposé. The bulk of the book is hence a scintillating double psychological portrait, but, with the fate of its protagonists broadly known from the outset, it gambles on eschewing surprise. Only in its denouement does it become a suspense thriller, as Knight conjures an arresting ending reminiscent of Ruth Rendell at her flintiest.
The problem is we don’t really care. Not only does Christine come over as two-dimensionally unlikeable, she also undergoes a remarkable personality change over the course of the novel, from naive accolyte to vengeful, knife-wielding bitch.
And aside from a creaky plot and the fact that supermarkets are not exactly sexy, the very word “secretary” — SECRETary on the book jacket, ouch — seems just a tad out of touch. Aren’t people executive assistants nowadays?