Believe Me
by Delaney, J. P.






An out-of-work British actress plays both sides of a murder investigation while working as a decoy for unfaithful husbands for a New York City divorce firm, in a twisted psychological thriller by the best-selling author of The Girl Before.





JP Delaney is a pseudonym for a writer who has previously written bestselling fiction under other names. Delaney is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Girl Before, which is being brought to the screen by Academy Award winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment.





*Starred Review* This second psychological thriller (following The Girl Before, 2017) from the pseudonymous Delaney (aka Tony Strong) is likely to follow its predecessor's path straight to the international best-seller lists. Despite a slightly far-fetched plot, it is a compelling read. Claire Wright is a struggling British actor in New York City without a green card, desperate enough for work and money to become a decoy for a law firm, seducing errant husbands and delivering tapes of their encounters. When the wife of one of her targets is butchered in her hotel room, the police investigators, suspecting the woman's husband of this and other sadistic crimes, are convinced that Claire will be able to elicit his confession. The poet Baudelaire, who believed that "the unique and supreme pleasure of sex lies in the possibility of doing evil," is Claire's way into her undercover role. Her target, literature professor Patrick Fogler, is a Baudelaire devotee. Claire is carrying a lot of personal baggage, and, as she gets into her role, she vacillates, in her relationship with Patrick, between Baudelaire's dichotomized view of women: Vénus Blanche (the idolized one) and Vénus Noire (the dark lady of fantasy). In the process, she redefines the concept of an unreliable narrator when it becomes clear that she can't even trust herself. Whether what Claire thinks and says are real or not ceases to matter to the reader, desperate to get to the conclusion, which is at once expected and unexpected. This rich, nuanced, highly literary take on the Gone Girl theme adds dimension and complexity to a trend that was in danger of wearing out its welcome. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





The unreliable-narrator craze continues with Delaney's (The Girl Before, 2017) new thriller. A disgraced British actress named Claire Wright comes to the United States, sans green card, looking for work. Her agent gives her the bad news. "The days we took the huddled masses yearning to be free are long over." She ends up working for a divorce lawyer, setting up stings to entrap unfaithful husbands by pretending to be a high-priced hooker. Then one of her prospective clients is found dead beneath a bloody sheet in a hotel room. Primary suspect: the woman's husband, a Columbia University professor and the translator of Baudelaire's book of S&M poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal. The police suspect he's a serial killer, with previous Baudelaire-inspired murders under his belt, ha ha. They have Claire go undercover to lure this guy into a confession. It's the role of her career, one she throws herself into so wholeheartedly she loses track of what is real and what is masquerade, endin g up madly in love with her target. After many twists and pseudo-reveals, she ends up first in a mental institution and then with a starring role in My Heart Laid Bare, the suspected killer's off-Broadway show based on a nasty incident in the life of Baudelaire. "Who is the real Claire Wright? The one sitting here with her precious green card and permit in front of her, exchanging pleasantries with the man who provided it? Or the one who fell for the darkness she sensed deep inside the only man she couldn't seduce?" An unreliable-narrator setup works best when the character believes her own story or is lying intentionally to other characters in the book. When it mostly means that the narrator deliberately conceals key facts from the reader for no purpose other than to create confusion and suspense, it feels a little cheesy. The author confesses in an afterword that she wrote and published this book decades prior to last year's bestseller, The Girl Before, but it didn't do ve r y well, so she's trying again with a rewrite. The best parts of this book were written in the middle of the 19th century by Charles Baudelaire. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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