BELIEVE ME -A review

I have finished J P Delaney’s latest just now – BELIEVE ME . I went into the book with some expectation based on his debut novel THE GIRL BEFORE . But , truth to be said , this has become yet another hastily-cooked-up-second-release-after-a promising-debut book .

Plot summary : 

Claire Wright likes to play other people. For Claire every day events play out like a movie scene in which she is an actor . She is also constantly on the lookout for gestures and nuances – both in others and herself which would be “ gold dust “ for her future roles . Picking up nuances is something that Claire does as everybody breathes , yet consciously she commits these nuances to memory to use them later in the appropriate circumstances – reel or real . An undocumented British drama student , she is employed by a firm of divorce lawyers to get incriminating evidence on straying husbands whose wives are the clients of the firm . Claire ’ s narrative is juxtaposed with movie scene script snippets which is an interesting twist to the regular narratives. She throws up words like jump cuts, montage scenes, acting styles…. – in short , a hardcore passionate student of theater who got her big break not in theater but in assisting the NYPD in unmasking a  killer .

When Stella Fogler is  found murdered in her hotel suite ,  Claire comes under police radar as she was one of the two people who last saw Stella alive .  As we all know , when a married woman is found murdered , its always the husband who becomes  the de facto suspect in the investigation and Patrick Fogler is no different . Patrick is incidentally the only husband who had rebuffed her advances when Claire  has put up her easy pick-up act . When a forensic profiler comes up with what she believes substantial evidence against Patrick Folgate ,  in not one ,  but several gruesome murders , Claire is asked by the police to entice Patrick into revealing his darker side ( is there one first ?? ) .

As Claire begins to forge an intimate relationship with Patrick  and the more she gets to know him , she begins to doubt the police theory and eventually the police force itself . How could such a faithful husband (despite his wife ‘ s doubts ) be a cold – blooded killer? Is there more to this whole ” operation ” as the forensic profiler terms it than what she has been told??

Does she know the actual picture ?

Or

The real Patrick ?

Review :

There are a few elements to the plot which however made the phrases ” No…not again ” , “ seen this before ”  circle my brain while I was reading this book too often . Frankly , this mix always goes for a very predictable ending – the unreliable narrator , the limited number of suspects , the very obvious motive(s) in some cases . It’s no surprise considering that there had been very few jigsaw puzzle pieces and the narrator had to play it up several ways deliberately before putting together the pieces  of the puzzle in the right place .

To begin with, the unreliable narrator trope – it has become something of a rage  staple for almost every ” psychological ” thriller that is being published nowadays . Maybe it goes the other way round too I guess – Get an unreliable narrator for your story and you have a psychological thriller .

It would be really good if our modern day suspense writers try to get the tone of the characters right to set a strong foundation for a psychological premise of the story  instead of relying solely on  the narrator . While Claire seemed to be characterized pretty well , the author hasn’t got the tone right for Patrick .

The book packs good number of twists to keep the reader continuing but the ending became very predictable and few elements were downright stupid . A random character pops up with obsessive tendencies ( however similar it may be to the  profile of the killer ) and attempts a murder . The plot just gets too obvious that I need to get to the final pages for a dramatic ending with the killer and this is just a decoy . If you actually want the reader to fall for your red herring atleast make it sound convincing . Sans motive , sans good number of pages / appearances the red herring becomes laughable .  And red herrings are meant to make the suspense game intense – not defuse the tension .

In all , I am in the mood for a good old fashioned detective story or a regular psychological thriller where the police are in the ground looking for clues and being just in time to foil the killer ‘ s plans for another murder or to simply haul him up reinforcing our faith that justice prevails ( atleast in fiction ) .  The unreliable narrators in the books I have read this year have made me wary of them for some time in the future definitely – the mere idea of yet another makes me run away from whodunits .

Rating :3 / 5

Guys , you can definitely pick up The Girl Before  by the same author . You can read the review here

The Girl Before – A review

Epigraphs

Like all addicts signature killers work from a script , engaging in repetitive behavior to the point of obsessiveness .

Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes , Signature Killers

We may say that the patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten or repressed , but acts it out . He reproduces it not as a memory but as an action ; he repeats it , without , of course , knowing that he is repeating it .

Sigmund Freud , Remembering , Repeating and Working – Through

______________________________________________

The Girl Before has been literally a (page) – tearing read . The copy had almost every alternate page stuck to the next page  and I was actually prising the pages apart and very often I ended up with torn pages . You can imagine how frustrating it is when you want to race through the pages but you are sitting and carefully prising open the pages stuck together – some way to read a suspense novel … I would not have minded if  it was any other genre.  I guess that ‘ s enough of a rant about the reading woes .

The story alternates between first person accounts from Emma – the Girl Before and Jane – the Girl Next . I picked up this book after Bring Me Back  and found that the same Then and Now style of narrative has been followed here too . There is yet another trope too that has become one of the go-to for suspense writers . Let me give a hint – Gone Girl took full advantage of this trope ( maybe I should say actually popularized this trope ) . Well , you need to pick up the book if you want to find it out – I have a strictly no spoilers policy !!

Plot summary  :

Jane gets a chance to occupy an aesthetic minimalist house . Now , One Folgate Street is a house where you have rules to be followed and any violation of the rules mean termination of the tenancy . The rules are laid out by the architect of the house – a man for whom perfectionism and minimalism are almost an obsession and  One Folgate Street is a reflection of his ideas and aspirations .  Jane discovers that her predecessor Emma  died under mysterious circumstances and starts putting together Emma’s life to  find an answer to the question – What happened with Emma ? Who is actually behind her death ?  Meanwhile we have Emma ‘ s parallel  account of her life at One Folgate Street and the readers get to know the truth behind her death . Jane ‘ s experiences  can be best described as reruns of Emma ‘s . But would Jane stumble upon the truth on time to save herself from the killer ?  Or does the same fate await her ?

JP Delaney has given a  neat psychological thriller – nothing more to say . What I loved about this book was the writing which shows that the topics have been  researched meticulously .  It was really interesting how cultural references took the narrative as well as the plot further .  The author packs a twist in every chapter and  you would be thinking about yet another angle within few chapters almost every time .  The characters , the setting of the story – basically The House and  narrative style have all been handled beautifully . Special mention about The House definitely – it is sure to pique the readers’ interest about minimalism . The reader engagement and the guess-it-who quotient is always maintained . An engaging read from first to last although I found the climax a bit too seen-it-before in other psychological thrillers . But you wouldn’t guess who until Emma finally reveals her killer. The narrators themselves have their own secrets … So , this book actually packs in a lot …

Rating : 4 .25/5

I highly recommend this book for all the suspense / thrillers buffs out there . Along the lines of The Girl in the Window this is another psychological thriller set to hit the screens soon –  You had better hurry up !!

The author ‘ s latest book has  Believe Me has got released recently . I will be reviewing it shortly . Click on the below links to check out the books at Amazon ( for Indian readers ) –

Believe Me

The Girl Before

Other readers can check out the below links  at Amazon –

The Girl Before

Believe Me