Book Review: Believe Me by JP Delaney
If you’re looking for a book that’ll take you on an absolute trip and mess with your head, then this is it. Believe Me is the latest psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Girl Before which I reviewed here. Here’s what Believe Me is about:
Claire Wright likes to play other people.
A British drama student, in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.
When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to use her acting skills to help lure their suspect into a confession. But right from the start, she has doubts about the part she’s being asked to play. Is Patrick Fogler really a killer . . . Or the only decent husband she’s ever met? And is there more to this set-up than she’s being told?
And that’s when Claire realises she’s playing the deadliest role of her life . .
It’s Claire’s story to tell but several things combine to make her an unreliable narrator. Claire’s desperate to be an actor and is in New York taking classes, sometimes being asked to go out onto the streets for some acting exercises. Which made me question how much of everything else she does is real and how much is role-playing.
She’s had to leave the UK behind her, for reasons which rankle but also influenced how much I trust her version of events, while also making me wonder how mentally robust she is for the biggest role of her life. I have to confess that the lawyer in me worried her way through the honey trap scenes but they’re crucial. They show us the lengths to which Claire will go to stay in New York, how good an actress she is but also how draining these performances are for her.
Besides the conundrum of whether Patrick Fogler is a killer, being set up or simply the obvious suspect, there’s so much I relished about this book. From the exercises Claire does as part of her acting classes, creating a fascinating insight into acting tricks and techniques, and how actors go about getting themselves into character to the psychological profiling she endures, to what people do for kicks and the games lovers play, and the way in which art and literature can inform and inspire both beauty and something altogether darker and uglier.
Believe Me is a real novel for our times, continually making me question how much is acting, what’s misdirection and lies, who to trust and just what is real here. It’s an immersive read, vicariously dangerous and thrilling in its twists and turns. Set aside a chunk of time and let the mind games commence.
Believe Me by JP Delaney is published by Quercus Books. It is available as an audiobook and an ebook and in hardback. You can find it at Amazon UK, Audible UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop), Waterstones and Wordery. JP Delaney, a pseudonym for a writer who has previously written bestselling fiction under other names.
My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy and for access to it via NetGalley.