Review: The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte

by Heather Caliendo
Book cover for The Perfect Fraud - review for Book Club Chat

Editorial note: I received a copy of The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte in exchange for a review. 

The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte is an original story about two very different women full of equally powerful secrets. This is a page-turner that you don’t want to miss!

There are so many aspects that make this one stand apart from other suspense and mystery novels. For one, the primary setting in Sedona, Arizona is such a refreshing change from stories set in bigger cities. The author Ellen LaCorte really painted a picture of what Sedona is like. And since Sedona is such a focus; so are the many psychics who reside there! Phoenix is also featured, although not a fun area of the city.

The story follows Claire, she’s living in Sedona with her boyfriend Cal. Her mom is a world class psychic on the East Coast and Claire doesn’t want her to discover the truth. Claire calls herself a psychic, but she doesn’t really have “the gift” and hasn’t for a long time. She’s a fraud.

On the other side of the country, Rena, a young mother, is in crisis. Her four-year-old daughter, Stephanie, suffers from mysterious, seemingly incurable stomach problems. No matter how many specialists Rena drags her to, no matter how many mommy-blog posts she makes about her child’s health issues, trying to get help and support from her online community, Stephanie only gets sicker.

When Claire and Rena meet by chance on an airplane, both of their lives are changed forever.

Lies and psychic abilities

We read the story from the perspectives of Claire and Rena and while their situations differ—they’re both withholding information from themselves and to those around them. Without giving away any spoilers, I caught Rena’s lies fairly early on, which made for an even more intense read. I’ll leave it at that.

On the other side, I really liked Claire. I wasn’t sure what I would think about the psychic storyline as I’m not familiar with that world but it was absolutely intriguing! I unexpectedly learned quite a bit about it and am now interested in learning more.

Claire lives with much guilt. Think about lying about having an ability—it would absolutely drain you. Ellen provides plenty of context to why Claire is this way and her character arc throughout the story is so compelling. I rooted for Claire throughout the story.

The big central mystery though is why isn’t Stephanie getting better? I will say just when you think you’ve figured something out, you will be hit with more curve balls.

Highly recommend

The Perfect Fraud is a unique suspenseful tale that you won’t want to put down. I will say it does get quite dark and disturbing at times so just be aware of that. But it’s such an interesting look about the impact of lies, while also serving as an engaging character study with plenty of emotional depth. Add this one to your summer read list!

Book clubs will have much to discuss! Check out my book club questions to get you started.

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