I was happy to receive this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This title is due for publication on 26/07/18.
JP Delaney is a pseudonym of Tony Strong. Having read the popular ‘The Girl Before,’ I was looking forward to reading ‘Believe Me’.
The book’s main protagonist is Claire, a troubled British actress who is living in America after becoming embroiled in a scandal at home. As she hasn’t got a green card, she has been doing a bit of shady work for cash as a honey-trap.
She gets more than she bargained for when she meets Stella Fogler, who employs her to set up her husband, Patrick. However, it doesn’t quite go to plan and Stella is found murdered. The police suspect her husband, who is obsessed with Baudelaire’s collection of obscenely sexualised poems; Les Fleurs du Mal.
Claire is hired as an actress by the police to try to gain a confession from Patrick, and her entanglement in a web of lies begins.
Throughout the book, Claire seems to shift personality more times than I could count, leaving the reader unsure as to where her allegiances truly lie. The trouble is… it seems as though Claire is unsure as well. Delaney has taken the idea of an unreliable narrator to another level. The story messes with your head and has quite a disturbing effect. The other main character, Patrick, comes across as sleazy and sadistic and as a result, I didn’t identify with any of the characters. I tend to prefer character led storylines, but this storyline certainly drives itself.
References to Baudelaire throughout gave the story credibility and substance, although made for uncomfortable reading at times.
Most of the story is 1st person from Claire’s point of view, but there are sections of the book which is written like a script. I suppose this is to emphasise the acting element of the story and to blur Claire’s reality for the reader even further. Personally, I felt that these segments were unnecessary and distracted from the flow of the story.
This book has characters who are hugely flawed and unlikable, yet I carried on reading. Why? Because the story has so many twists and turns. The original and complex storyline will have you reading in to the early hours.