Saturday, June 15, 2019

Books: "The Perfect Fraud" By Ellen LaCorte

The Perfect Fraud
By Ellen LaCorte
Harper/HarperCollins Publishers; hardcover, 304 pages; $26.99; available Tuesday, June 18

Ellen LaCorte's intense debut novel, The Perfect Fraud, focuses on two very different women who each hold powerful secrets.

Claire is living in Sedona, Arizona with her boyfriend Cal and she is in the midst of ducking calls from her mother. Her mom is a world class psychic on the East Coast and Claire doesn't want her to discover the truth.

Claire also works as a psychic, but the difference between her and her mother is that she doesn't really have "the gift" and hasn't for a long time. She is a complete fraud.

Meanwhile, across the country, Rena is a young mother who has family issues of her own. She is divorced and has a four-year-old daughter, Stephanie, suffers from mysterious, seemingly incurable stomach problems. No matter how many specialists Stephanie visits, and no matter how many mommy-blog posts Rena makes about her child's health issues, trying to get help and support from her online community, Stephanie only gets sicker.

Claire and Rena wind up meeting by chance on an airplane heading for Arizona.

A Perfect Fraud is told in alternating voices between Claire and Rena, who is the voice of this part, as LaCorte writes, "A woman holding a boarding pass stops at our row. She says Stephanie is in her seat. She's not too happy when I tell her the airline gives us these seats because Steph is sick. Looking around like she's going to make this big stink, she seems to decide it's too much of a hassle and sits down in the aisle seat.
"I introduce myself, squeeze Steph's knee, and say, 'And this is Stephanie, my daughter. We're taking a trip all the way to Arizona to see a new doctor, aren't we, sweetie?'
"The woman nods, buckles her seat belt, and shuts her eyes.
"She's so tall her knees are all scrunched up against the seat in front of her. Her lashes are long and fringy and I want to ask her what mascara she uses. And her hair is really shiny and lays exactly the way it should, just touching her shoulders. Maybe I could ask her about her shampoo too.
"Stephanie squiggles around in her seat, so I give her a coloring book and crayons, and then I take the Xanax I brought with me. I'm asleep until I feel Steph shaking my shoulder, asking for some water.
"My neighbor must hear her too, because she looks over at us with her eyes half-closed.
"'The new doctor in Arizona is the best in the nation for treating stomach problems like what Steph has. Steph and me, we know she is going to fix her right up,' I say. My neighbor opens her eyes the rest of the way. There's this piece-of-crap china figurine I got in a junk store a few years ago. One of those Japanese good-luck kitties holding up a paw. It has two fake emeralds stuck in the eye sockets - that's the color of her eyes.
"'Pardon me?' she says.
"'I said my daughter and me are going all the way to Arizona to see a specialist. A tummy doctor, right, Steph?' I pat Stephanie's stomach. She puts a finger in her mouth and starts to chew on the nail. I shake my head, and she moves her hand back to her lap.
"'Oh,' says the woman, 'that's good.'
"'Do you live in Arizona...?' I ask, leaving the air space for her to call her name.
"'Claire...It's Claire. Yes, I live in Sedona.'
"'Oh, Sedona. I heard all about that place. The pictures of those red rocks are amazing. And isn't that where all those crazy vibes are?'
"'You know, energy circles, shit like that.'
"'Yes, that's what people say.' Claire moves around in her seat, turns away, and shuts her eyes again."

Soon after, Claire and Rena's carefully constructed lives begin to explode. Can they help each other and save Stephanie before it's too late?

Ellen LaCorte Book Appearances:

Tuesday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m. - Bay Ridge, Brooklyn - The BookMark Shoppe -  8415 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 - (718)833-5115 -

Wednesday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m. - Philadelphia, PA - Doylestown Bookshop - 16 S Main ST, Doylestown, PA 18901 - (215)230-7610 -

Thursday, June 27 at 7:00 p.m. - Princeton, NJ - Barnes & Noble Booksellers - Marketfair - 3535 US RT 1S, Princeton, NJ 08540 - 609-750-9010 -

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