Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Perfect Fraud by Ellen Lacorte

This was a novel I received from HarperCollins last month and it took me awhile to dig into it. A sleepless night was the key to flipping the switch and really diving into the story. Then of course, I wanted to stay home and finish it the next day but darn it all I had to work! I finished it at lunch. 

I've read a lot of domestic thrillers in the past few years, ever since Gone Girl and Girl on the Train jump-started the genre. I have to confess it's not my favorite type of read. And heck, it makes you look around at the people in your life and wonder if there's a story there just waiting to get out. I had a hard time getting into this story; I kept putting it down and moving onto other books. 

Part of the reason was because one of the main characters-Rena-is so unlikeable I didn't want to read her story. If you think she's unlikeable in the beginning, just hold onto your shorts, because she doesn't grow on you at all!

Short plot: Rena is a mother who has a daughter, Stephanie, aged four. Ever since she was a baby, Stephanie has suffered from painful stomach ailments. Rena has spent all her time taking Stephanie to doctor after doctor, demanding test after test and no one can figure out what is wrong with Stephanie. A few times she's been so ill--her sodium levels have skyrocketed and put her in severe health crises. Rena is fed up with the doctor who is treat Stephanie, so she decides to fly to Arizona to see a specialist. Rena also runs a blog that not only discusses her daughter's illness, but talks about Rena's search for healthy food and alternative ways to heal her daughter. 

The other main character is Claire. She lives in Arizona, and works in Sedona as a psychic--who gives fake readings. She doesn't care, actually. Mostly because her mother is a psychic, and pushed Claire to develop her natural talents in that area. But Claire resents her mother, and shut it all off (she actually doesn't think she's got any psychic abilities anyway). Claire is a bit prickly; her boyfriend wants to marry her, but she keeps him at arm's length. Her father's health suddenly nosedives, and she has to fly back home.

On the flight back to Arizona, Claire sits next to Rena and Stephanie. This is where to two paths finally cross. And where the story gets interesting. 

It's pretty easy to figure out what's going on with Rena and Stephanie. Rena is so completely unlikeable that she leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and a fair bit of rage in your heart. Claire grows on you, for sure. She has some big revelations that shake her up, and in doing so, opens up her psychic talents BIG time. You will get to a certain point in the action where you won't be able to put the book down, and you'll feel your heart rate increase a bit! 

It's a fast read, and even though I struggled a bit at the beginning, it turned out to be a pretty good story. Certainly a different one--not at all what I expected when I picked it up. Definitely a vacation read you'll pass onto your friends. 

A big thanks to HarperCollins for a preview copy. It's a book I probably wouldn't have read otherwise, so I'm always grateful for a chance to step outside my reading comfort zone and try something different. 

Rating: 4/6 for a domestic thriller that takes a few twists and turns and ends with a bit of a zip. A quick read that will grip you as you race towards the end. 

Available in hardcover, audio, and ebook. 

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