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Believe Me by JP Delaney

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Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
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‘I’m just an actress. I wanted to stand on stage and have people applaud. How on earth did I get into all this?’

Believe Me is a novel from the author of the Sunday Times and New York bestselling The Girl Before, JP Delaney. Originally published in 2001 as The Decoy, it has now been given a rework and been re-released by Quercus Books under this new title.

I haven’t read any books by JP Delaney, but when you see comments such as ‘Elegant’ (Peter James), ‘Dazzling’ (Lee Child) and ‘Compulsive’ (Glamour Magazine) the bar is set high!

What did I think? Well you’ll just have to keep reading….

Ok I will have to say from the outset that this is a book that required full suspension of reality for me but once I did that and accepted it as pure fiction, I was completely drawn into the plot.

Claire Wright is in financial difficulty. A British actress in New York, Claire had big expectations for her acting career but like many before her, Claire soon discovers that the reality is very different. On a scholarship with the Actor’s Studio, her tuition fees are covered, but with no green card, Claire is not allowed to work off campus. Claire does not have many options available to her so when an opportunity arises working with a firm of divorce lawyers, Claire takes it. It pays the bills and, in a way, it still involves using her acting skills. Claire is the decoy hired through the firm by wives looking to catch out their husbands who they believe may be straying.

Claire is a very very intriguing character. There is something very enigmatic about her yet also she has some very unstable traits, as we get to see throughout the novel. Claire carries no guilt for entrapping these men as she creates a different character that will appeal to each unsuspecting man. As Claire herself describes it..‘This isn’t lying. This is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Which, as you’ll discover, is very different.’

Believe Me is narrated by Claire, so as the story moves on, we are like voyeurs watching the scenes unfold before us.

Claire soon finds herself caught up in a frightening situation when a woman’s body is discovered brutally murdered in a hotel room. The victim is the wife of one of Claire’s ‘targets’. Claire had spent an evening with Patrick Fogler at the behest of his wife Stella. It is Stella’s body that is found…

Claire is one of the last people to see both Stella and Patrick so the NYPD soon become very interested in her activities and what she was doing on the night Stella was murdered. Claire is put at the mercy of the NYPD when they discover she was ‘working’ without a green card and with little choice Claire becomes embroiled in the most dangerous game of entrapment she will ever experience. Patrick Fogler is an unusual character with very little remorse, yet standing over his innocence at all times.

Claire becomes the honey in the trap, as her relationship with Patrick develops but under the constant surveillance of Detective Frank Durban and Forensic Psychologist Dr Kathryn Latham. Patrick Fogler has been on the radar of the law enforcement in the past and Dr Kathryn Latham is determined to bring him down this time. Is Patrick Fogler guilty of murdering his wife? Can Claire unveil the truth or is she in too deep?

Patrick Fogler is obsessed with a book entitled ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’, a collection of poetry dating back to 1857 and written by French Poet, Charles Baudelaire. Focusing on the erotic, there are many references to some of the poems, which for me was a little outside my norm. I have no experience of the poetry world so these poetic inputs to the story were probably a little lost on me.

Believe Me is quite unlike any other book I have read before. Many of the conversations are in ‘real-time’ which, as I mentioned earlier, feels quite voyeuristic as you become quite embroiled in Claire’s story. The erotic theme running through the novel adds a definite twist to this psychological thriller, making for a rather intriguing plot-line. Certainly another movie in the pipeline for JP Delaney I would think!

Overall I really enjoyed Believe Me. It provided me with pure escapism and entertainment and most definitely kept me turning those pages which, when I’m on holidays, is exactly what I look for… Did I like any of the characters? Well no. But then I don’t have to do I..this is fiction after all.

Thrilling. Provocative. Fast-paced.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.