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Renée Knight. Harper, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-236225-4

A mysterious book within a book, which contains potentially damning information about the protagonist, jump starts this remarkable debut by British scriptwriter Knight. On the bedroom nightstand in the new apartment documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft shares with her husband, Robert, Catherine finds a self-published novel, The Perfect Stranger, which describes an incident that Catherine never told Robert about. Over 20 years earlier in Spain, 19-year-old Jonathan Brigstocke drowned while saving the couple’s five-year-old son, Nicholas. The book suggests that Catherine was to blame because she and Jonathan were having an affair, and it concludes with her death. Meanwhile, widower and retired teacher Stephen Brigstocke, who found the book’s manuscript among his late wife’s possessions and believes it to be true, begins to try to dismantle Catherine’s seemingly perfect life by humiliating her professionally and personally. This unsettling psychological thriller about guilt and grief briskly moves to a shocking finale enhanced by its strong characters. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (May)