cover image Believe Me

Believe Me

JP Delaney. Ballantine, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-101-96631-0

Delaney—a pseudonym for British adman Tony Strong—follows his debut, 2017’s bestselling The Girl Before, with a thriller undercut by a preposterous premise, cardboard characters, and arbitrary major plot reversals. For starters, readers are asked to buy the NYPD’s exploiting British actress Claire Wright’s lack of a green card to strong-arm her into a lengthy undercover operation designed to trap Patrick Fogler, a Columbia University English professor specializing in Baudelaire, who’s suspected of sadistically murdering several women, including his wealthy wife, Stella, according to scenarios inspired by poems from Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal. Once Claire and Patrick embark on their dangerous danse macabre—all the while with Det. Frank Durban and profiler Kathryn Latham listening in—the kinky mind games begin in earnest. Could Claire herself, who briefly met Stella the night she was killed, actually be the investigation’s target? For those willing to completely suspend disbelief, the author produces a bobsled run’s worth of twists. [em]Agent: Caradoc King, United Artists (U.K.). (July) [/em]