Review: Believe Me
Believe Me, J.P. Delaney
To be published July 24, 2018, Ballantine Books
In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Timesbestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.
A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.
Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.
Then the game changes.
When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.
Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?
This is definitely a "wow, what did I just read?' kind of book in the best possible way.
First and foremost, this book was a interesting look into a world I once called my own. I have a BFA in Theatre, and spent some of my four years acquiring that degree playing similar games and learning the techniques that Claire does in her classes. And that's pretty much where the similarity ends.
It's a wild ride as the reader try to suss out how much is Claire acting, if there's something really wrong with her, really wrong with Patrick, and what's really happening the shadowy underworld of the online community at Necropolis.
I enjoyed the occasional piece of misdirection laid out in the form of Claire writing out a scene in her head, sometimes it was just her imagination, and sometimes it was a revelation of truth. A lot of the other scenes that were also presented in the form of a film script took some getting used to as they pulled me from the narrative sometimes. I understand that they were meant to help convey the depths to which Claire saw her life in the form of a movie, how much everything was a performance, but it was a hairbreadth away from a contrivance.
I loved the ultimate reveal at the end and felt like I had been on one hell of a ride.
This is also the second book I've read this year in which Baudelaire inspires heinous people to elevate cruelty and death to a place of art, so I'm good on this B from now on.
A note of caution for sensitive readers: there are a fair amount of descriptions of the mutilated women. While it didn't go as far as some other books, and it was a necessary part of understanding the stakes, there are photographs and events that described in a way that is definitely upsetting and not for every reader.
Overall, I enjoyed this book even more than The Girl Before, and I look forward to more of the psyneudonycmous Delaney's work.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read an early copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.