A well-written and intriguing book about a murder and the actress brought in to compel a confession.
Claire Wright is a struggling actress, in America without a green card. Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But it is 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 her seductive propositions. Then the game changes. When Stella, the wife of one of Clare’s targets, is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband, Patrick is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Clare to lure him into a confession. Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who is a master at the art of manipulation, how difficult would it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy and who is the prey?
The book sounds really interesting and starts off really strong. Claire’s character drives the narrative, and I am initially intrigued by who she is and what she does. She is a struggling actress trying to make it big, most importantly trying to get her green card, because she can’t go back to Britain. Claire’s backstory in Britain is interspersed throughout the book and her experiences there could have been a book all its own. She can get her green card and stay in the US, if she can just get this confession from Patrick.
But BELIEVE ME will turn you on your head, not just once, but quite a few times, in the quest to find the real murderer. Things and people are not always what they seem in this psychological thriller. Claire character who was strong and confident early in the book, became unreliable and insecure in the later part of the book. I was disappointed to see her turned into such a weak and needy character and my interest waned seriously in Part Three of the book.
The writing is good and flows very well. I even liked having small portions of the narrative set in a script format, it’s certainly in keeping with the theme of the book. The story is robust and includes —Claire backstory, Claires acting classes, Claire’s undercover role, Claire’s role in the Baudelaire play, her love life, and her intense need for attention—it’s all seems a little much. When I tried describing this book to a friend, well, it got complicated! A little to complicated.
J.P. Delaney is the author of The Girl Before. Believe Me is his second novel under that particular name. It was however, previously published as The Decoy, under the pseudonym of Tony Strong. After Delaney’s good luck with The Girl Before, Believe Me was reworked and rerelease under the Delaney name. I have a serious thing about male authors who feel they have to use a generic pseudonym to trick women into buying their books, when they write from a female perspective. And that in exactly what Tony Strong whose real name is Anthony Capella does. “There are some big advantages to using a pseudonym,” he wrote in an email to the NYT, “The first is that people can’t tell from the initials if I am a man or woman—and I’ve been really gratified that many readers have assumed from the way I’ve written from two female perspectives that I’m actually a woman....”. If Delaney seriously wants to write from a female perspective, he perhaps should try and write about strong female characters.
Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher Ballantine Books
Published July 24, 2018.