Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Secretary

After doing time as a temp, 25-year-old Christine Butcher can hardly believe her good fortune when glamorous Mina Appleton, heir to the Appleton's supermarket chain, asks Christine to be her full-time secretary. The job includes managing every aspect of Mina's life, professional and personal. And the number one quality Mina demands of her secretary? Loyalty.

It seems an easy price to pay since the job comes with heady perks, and Christine enjoys keeping her boss happy. But the hours get longer and she misses her young daughter's school play. And then Christine's father is hospitalized but she must accompany Mina on a business trip. When Mina is investigated for shady business practices, Christine needs to decide how far she'll go to protect the woman who has given her everything.

Though different in tone and subject from her stellar debut, Disclaimer, Knight once again excels at creating complicated female characters who keep readers unbalanced. Christine observes of her boss: "Like a fox, she is prepared to destroy, even when she's not hungry... she'll still trash the coop for the sport of it." And yet, "I was proud to march by her side." Christine starts out honest and bright-eyed, but her ethical boundaries become gradually porous over 18 years in Mina's employ. Mina's manipulation is so insidious, Christine never even considers saying no to her. Or does she? The unassuming secretary knows all of her boss's dirty secrets, so who actually has the power? Their relationship becomes increasingly toxic, yet remains so compelling that readers will race through the pages to see if both will survive it. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd