The Book of You; Claire Kendal
Harper - 2014
Intro quote ---
Week One - The Spinning Girl
" It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you. Someone is catching up to me, and I turn and see you. I'd known it would be you, but still I loose my footing on the frozen snow. I stagger up. There are patches of wet on the knees of my stockings. My mittens are soaked through.
Any sensible person would be at home on such an icy morning if he had a choice in the matter, but not you. You are out, taking a little stroll. You are reaching to steady me, asking if I'm okay, but I step away, managing not to unbalance myself again.
I know you must have been watching me since I left my house. I can't stop myself from asking you what you're doing here, though I know your answer won't be the true one."
Who would expect that an invitation to a book event followed by a glass of wine with a coworker to lead to an obsession and stalking scenario? That's exactly what happens to University employee Clarissa Bourne. The morning after the event she wakes up with no memory of what transpired, but it's pretty clear she was drugged and raped. The "Book of You" is the "The Book of Rafe".
Almost immediately Rafe becomes obsessed with Clarissa. When he doesn't seem to get she is not interested and wants to left alone, things intensify with him. He is everywhere, he's been through her trash and recycling. He's buying her gifts, leaving her notes and messages, watching her and lurking around every corner. He sends he black death flowers, along with copies of pornographic photos he took the night he had his way with her. Her only reprieve from this crazed man is when she is called for jury duty. It's an extended case (7 weeks) which involves the kidnapping and rape of another young woman, but this woman was a prostitute and druggie.Despite this, you realize that she too is a victim.
Although Clarissa hasn't picked the best partners in life thus far, she can hardly be blamed for leading Rafe on. He's a nut case and a slick one too. He is careful about what he does when he terrorizes Clarissa, making it difficult for the police to get involved initially. To prove her case she begins documenting his every move in, what she calls, "The Book of You". The jury was a somewhat good diversion for Clarissa, giving her helpful information for her case against Rafe.
The author does a terrific job of quickly hooking you with her writing style, to the point that I had a hard time putting this debut novel down. The writing is great, the plot twists unexpected and the ending satisfying as well. This is probably not a novel for the "faint of heart", as there are some rather raw scenes to read about. Frankly, the story is pretty dark and chilling from beginning to end, and the author was skilled at escalating the level of tension created by Clarissa's stalker throughout.