Delusion

( 3 )

Overview

A woman's world is turned upside down when new evidence frees a man she put in prison with her testimony years ago in this latest ingenious thriller from the author Publishers Weekly calls "one of the best contemporary thriller writers around."

Twenty years ago Nell Jarreau witnessed the murder of her boyfriend. Her testimony put a man behind bars–and led her to her husband, Clay, the gentle detective who solved the case. They've been happy ...

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Delusion

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Overview

A woman's world is turned upside down when new evidence frees a man she put in prison with her testimony years ago in this latest ingenious thriller from the author Publishers Weekly calls "one of the best contemporary thriller writers around."

Twenty years ago Nell Jarreau witnessed the murder of her boyfriend. Her testimony put a man behind bars–and led her to her husband, Clay, the gentle detective who solved the case. They've been happy ever since–and have raised a daughter together–but then one phone call changes everything.

New evidence has exonerated Alvin DuPree, aka Pirate–the man Nell helped to convict–and now he's a free man. Nell is consumed by feelings of guilt, and for the first time in their marriage, Clay is no help. The case is closed for him, this new turn of events a mistake, nothing more, and Nell's attempts to talk to him about the situation are met with anger. And to make matters worse, the whole ordeal is beginning to wear on her relationship with her daughter.

Nell is determined to find the answers to her questions, though. Is DuPree, now a much-changed man, really innocent? Could Nell have been wrong all those years ago? Does her husband–or her daughter–know something about the case Nell doesn't? But secrets buried for twenty years tend to grow roots, to burrow deep; and they are not unearthed easily. Every answer produces more questions, and Nell's search eventually leads her to the one person she hasn't approached: the freed man himself. As the pieces fall into place, Nell realizes that the truth–and very real danger–could be much closer than she ever imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

Art Taylor
…piecing together the clues proves secondary here. By the book's midpoint, even inattentive readers will likely see the solution's outline. To Abrahams's great credit, however, that hardly matters. The novel's power derives instead from delving deep into these characters' lives…Even as the mystery seems transparent, these characters' fates and the integrity of justice itself seem to swing in a very unsteady balance, with Abrahams keeping the tension taut right through the end.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Mistaken identity and a decades-old coverup collide in this underwhelming Southern thriller from Abrahams (Nerve Damage) set in the wake of a Katrina-like hurricane. Nell Jarreau's eyewitness testimony sent Alvin "Pirate" DuPree to prison for the murder of her then-boyfriend, Johnny Blanton. Twenty years later, Nell is shocked when a mysterious tape surfaces that exonerates DuPree. Warned by her husband, Clay-the lead detective on Johnny's case and now the chief of police of Belle Ville, a New Orleans-like city-to leave the case alone, Nell is haunted by her role in imprisoning an innocent man. When an old reporter friend resurfaces to research the DuPree story, and Nell's daughter, Norah, who is Johnny's biological child, starts behaving oddly, Nell realizes she must uncover Johnny's true killer before her life spins out of control. Guilt or innocence aside, DuPree is a highly unlikable and inarticulate character, while Nell herself is too one-dimensional to carry the dramatic weight of the story. Fans of Abrahams's complex earlier novels will hope for a return to form next time. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

While a young, pregnant graduate student, Nell Jarreau witnessed her boyfriend's murder, helping convict and send the accused, Alvin Dupree, to prison for life. Nell then had her baby, married the lead detective on her case, and built an idyllic life. Fast-forward 20 years, and the incarcerated Dupree has been released from prison because new videotaped evidence suggests he was not at the scene of the crime and could not have shot and killed Nell's boyfriend. Devastated and confused, Nell begins grappling with her "mistake," her daughter's disturbing behavior, her now chief of police husband's outright refusal to investigate the new developments, and other strange events that begin to occur. Abrahams's characters are extremely well rendered and quite fascinating, as are all of the plot's twists and turns. In addition to crafting a captivating and swiftly moving story replete with intriguing characters, the Edgar-nominated Abrahams (Nerve Damage) provides wonderful locales in both Louisiana and the Caribbean. Highly recommended for mystery/suspense/thriller and general fiction collections.
—Nicole A. Cooke

Kirkus Reviews
The apparent exoneration of a wrongfully convicted killer long after the fact plays havoc with the people who did the convicting-and with the convict as well. One night 20 years ago, Nell Jarreau saw her boyfriend, geology student Johnny Blanton, stabbed to death by a masked robber whose mask slipped just long enough to give her a clear look at his face. That look was enough to persuade her-and through her testimony, a jury-that the murderer was Alvin DuPree. Now tropical storm Bernardine, which has sown death and destruction throughout North Carolina, has brought to light a videotape, locked away in the files of Detective Bobby Rice, that gives DuPree an alibi for the time of the murder. Bobby isn't available for comment because he's been killed in the storm. And about the only comment from his former partner, now police chief, Clay Jarreau, is that the wife he courted after closing the case should leave well enough alone. But Nell can't keep away from DuPree, who has been released from prison with a fat civil settlement and without a clue what to do with his life. Neither can Belle Ville Guardian reporter Lee Ann Bonner, who knows a hot story when she sees one. Nor can Norah Jarreau, the troubled daughter of Nell and Johnny whom Clay has raised from birth. Soon Nell is visiting DuPree; Lee Ann is interviewing him about a possible book project; and Norah and her boyfriend Joe Don Yeller are hanging around with him and getting high. As the plot simmers, Abrahams (Nerve Damage, 2007, etc.) shows the house of cards built on the assumption of DuPree's guilt trembling with every move that's made. The real prize here is DuPree, a brutish innocent who imagines himself as Job and feverishlyplans a memoir called Only a Test. Abrahams succeeds in making this deeply wronged man dangerous, pitiable and scary. Agent: Molly Friedrich/Aaron Priest Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061138003
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,031,485
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Abrahams is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five books, including the Edgar Award-winning Reality Check, Bullet Point, and the Echo Falls series for middle graders. Writing as Spencer Quinn, he is also the author of the Chet and Bernie series—Dog on It, Thereby Hangs a Tail, and To Fetch a Thief. He and his wife live in Massachusetts with their dog, Audrey.

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Read an Excerpt

Delusion
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

The man they called Pirate heard a guard coming down the cell block. Pirate had excellent hearing. He could identify the guards just from the sound of their footsteps on the cement floor. This one—Hispanic, bushy salt-and-pepper mustache, dark depressions under his eyes—had a tread that was somehow muffled and heavy at the same time, and once in a while he dragged a heel in a way that made a little scuffing sound Pirate found pleasant.

Scuff, scuff, and then the footsteps stopped. "Hey," the guard said.

Pirate, lying on his bunk, facing the wall—a featureless wall, but he'd grown to like it—turned his head. The Hispanic guard with the mustache and tired eyes—Pirate no longer bothered to learn their names—stood outside the bars, keys in hand.

"Wakie wakie," the guard said.

Pirate hadn't been sleeping, but he didn't argue. He just lay there, head turned so he could see, body curled comfortably, one hand resting on his Bible. Pirate hardly even opened it anymore—the one section that interested him now pretty much committed to memory—but he liked the feel of it, especially that gold tassel for marking your place.

"Come on," the guard said. "Shake a leg."

Shake a leg? Pirate didn't understand. It wasn't chow time, and besides, weren't they in lockdown? Hadn't they been in lockdown the past two or three days, for reasons Pirate had forgotten, or never known? He didn't understand, but didn't argue, instead getting off the bunk and moving toward the bars. Keys jingled. The guard opened up, made a little motionwith his chin, a quick tilt. Pirate raised his arms, spread his legs, got patted down. The guard grunted. Pirate turned, lowered his pants, bent over. The guard grunted again. Pirate straightened, zipped up. The guard made another chin motion, this one sideways. Pirate stepped outside.

They walked down the corridor, the guard on Pirate's right. On the right was bad, his blind side, made him uncomfortable. But there was nothing he could do.

"You got a visitor," the guard said.

A visitor? Pirate hadn't had a visitor in a long time, years and years. They went down the row of cells, Pirate's good eye, his only eye, registering all the familiar faces, each one more or less wrong in its own way; and around the corner, more cells, four tiers, on and on. It reminded him, when he thought of it at all, of an experiment he'd seen in a movie, one with rats. The difference was he'd felt sorry for the rats. Pirate didn't feel sorry for anyone in here, himself included. That part—no longer feeling sorry for himself—was his greatest accomplishment. He was at peace, in harmony with passing time. That was the message of the gold tassel.

"Who?" he said.

"Who what?" said the guard.

"The visitor."

"Your lawyer, maybe?"

Pirate didn't have a lawyer. He'd had a lawyer long ago, Mr. Rollins, but hadn't heard from him in years.

They came to a gate. Pirate's guard handed over a slip of paper. Another guard opened the gate. They went down a short walkway, through an unlocked door, into the visiting room.

There were no other inmates in the visiting room. The guard took a seat at the back, picked a newspaper off the floor. On the far side of the glass, by one of the phones, sat a young woman Pirate had never seen. She smiled—smiled at him, Pirate. No doubt about it—besides, there was no one else around, no one she could have been smiling at. Except the guard, maybe; but the guard, opening his newspaper, wasn't paying any attention to the woman. A big photograph of a man with his arms raised in triumph was on the front page. Pirate didn't recognize him.

"Ten minutes," said the guard.

Pirate moved toward the glass wall, a thick, shatterproof glass wall with three steel chairs in front, bolted to the floor. He sat in the middle one, facing the young woman. Her skin transfixed him. No one inside—inmates or guards—had skin like this, smooth, glowing, so alive. And her eyes: the whites of them, so clear, like alabaster, a word he'd come across in his reading and now grasped.

She raised a hand, small and finely shaped, with polished nails and a gold wedding band. He followed its movements like a dog; as a boy, he'd had a very smart dog named Snappy, capable of following silent commands. Some time passed—his mind on Snappy—before he realized what she wanted him to do: pick up the phone.

He picked up the phone. She spoke into hers.

"Hello, Mr. DuPree."

His real name: When had he last heard it? "Hello," he said; and then, remembering his manners, added, "ma'am."

She smiled again, her teeth—more of that alabaster, like works of art, having nothing to do with biting, sparkling even through the dusty, smeary glass—distracted him, so he almost missed what came next. "Oh," she said, "just call me Susannah. Susannah Upton."

"Susannah Upton?"

She spelled both names for him. "I'm a lawyer."

"Yeah?" said Pirate. "Are you from Mr. Rollins?"

"Mr. Rollins?" she said.

"My lawyer," said Pirate. "At the trial."

Susannah Upton frowned. That meant one tiny furrow appeared on her brow, somehow making her look even younger. "I believe . . ." she began, and opened a leather briefcase, taking a sheet of paper from a folder with Pirate's full name written in red on the front: Alvin Mack DuPree. ". . . yes," Susannah continued, "he passed away."

"Died?"

Susannah nodded. "Almost ten years ago now."

At that moment, Pirate felt a strange feeling that came from time to time, a squinting in the socket where his right eye had been; like he was trying to see better, get things in focus. "What of?" Pirate said.

"I'm sorry?"

"Mr. Rollins. What did he die of?"

"It doesn't say."

Pirate tried to picture Mr. Rollins, estimate his age back then. He'd had graying hair, but that didn't necessarily mean . . .

Delusion
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by Peter Abrahams. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Delusion
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

The man they called Pirate heard a guard coming down the cell block. Pirate had excellent hearing. He could identify the guards just from the sound of their footsteps on the cement floor. This one—Hispanic, bushy salt-and-pepper mustache, dark depressions under his eyes—had a tread that was somehow muffled and heavy at the same time, and once in a while he dragged a heel in a way that made a little scuffing sound Pirate found pleasant.

Scuff, scuff, and then the footsteps stopped. "Hey," the guard said.

Pirate, lying on his bunk, facing the wall—a featureless wall, but he'd grown to like it—turned his head. The Hispanic guard with the mustache and tired eyes—Pirate no longer bothered to learn their names—stood outside the bars, keys in hand.

"Wakie wakie," the guard said.

Pirate hadn't been sleeping, but he didn't argue. He just lay there, head turned so he could see, body curled comfortably, one hand resting on his Bible. Pirate hardly even opened it anymore—the one section that interested him now pretty much committed to memory—but he liked the feel of it, especially that gold tassel for marking your place.

"Come on," the guard said. "Shake a leg."

Shake a leg? Pirate didn't understand. It wasn't chow time, and besides, weren't they in lockdown? Hadn't they been in lockdown the past two or three days, for reasons Pirate had forgotten, or never known? He didn't understand, but didn't argue, instead getting off the bunk and moving toward the bars. Keys jingled. The guard opened up, made a littlemotion with his chin, a quick tilt. Pirate raised his arms, spread his legs, got patted down. The guard grunted. Pirate turned, lowered his pants, bent over. The guard grunted again. Pirate straightened, zipped up. The guard made another chin motion, this one sideways. Pirate stepped outside.

They walked down the corridor, the guard on Pirate's right. On the right was bad, his blind side, made him uncomfortable. But there was nothing he could do.

"You got a visitor," the guard said.

A visitor? Pirate hadn't had a visitor in a long time, years and years. They went down the row of cells, Pirate's good eye, his only eye, registering all the familiar faces, each one more or less wrong in its own way; and around the corner, more cells, four tiers, on and on. It reminded him, when he thought of it at all, of an experiment he'd seen in a movie, one with rats. The difference was he'd felt sorry for the rats. Pirate didn't feel sorry for anyone in here, himself included. That part—no longer feeling sorry for himself—was his greatest accomplishment. He was at peace, in harmony with passing time. That was the message of the gold tassel.

"Who?" he said.

"Who what?" said the guard.

"The visitor."

"Your lawyer, maybe?"

Pirate didn't have a lawyer. He'd had a lawyer long ago, Mr. Rollins, but hadn't heard from him in years.

They came to a gate. Pirate's guard handed over a slip of paper. Another guard opened the gate. They went down a short walkway, through an unlocked door, into the visiting room.

There were no other inmates in the visiting room. The guard took a seat at the back, picked a newspaper off the floor. On the far side of the glass, by one of the phones, sat a young woman Pirate had never seen. She smiled—smiled at him, Pirate. No doubt about it—besides, there was no one else around, no one she could have been smiling at. Except the guard, maybe; but the guard, opening his newspaper, wasn't paying any attention to the woman. A big photograph of a man with his arms raised in triumph was on the front page. Pirate didn't recognize him.

"Ten minutes," said the guard.

Pirate moved toward the glass wall, a thick, shatterproof glass wall with three steel chairs in front, bolted to the floor. He sat in the middle one, facing the young woman. Her skin transfixed him. No one inside—inmates or guards—had skin like this, smooth, glowing, so alive. And her eyes: the whites of them, so clear, like alabaster, a word he'd come across in his reading and now grasped.

She raised a hand, small and finely shaped, with polished nails and a gold wedding band. He followed its movements like a dog; as a boy, he'd had a very smart dog named Snappy, capable of following silent commands. Some time passed—his mind on Snappy—before he realized what she wanted him to do: pick up the phone.

He picked up the phone. She spoke into hers.

"Hello, Mr. DuPree."

His real name: When had he last heard it? "Hello," he said; and then, remembering his manners, added, "ma'am."

She smiled again, her teeth—more of that alabaster, like works of art, having nothing to do with biting, sparkling even through the dusty, smeary glass—distracted him, so he almost missed what came next. "Oh," she said, "just call me Susannah. Susannah Upton."

"Susannah Upton?"

She spelled both names for him. "I'm a lawyer."

"Yeah?" said Pirate. "Are you from Mr. Rollins?"

"Mr. Rollins?" she said.

"My lawyer," said Pirate. "At the trial."

Susannah Upton frowned. That meant one tiny furrow appeared on her brow, somehow making her look even younger. "I believe . . ." she began, and opened a leather briefcase, taking a sheet of paper from a folder with Pirate's full name written in red on the front: Alvin Mack DuPree. ". . . yes," Susannah continued, "he passed away."

"Died?"

Susannah nodded. "Almost ten years ago now."

At that moment, Pirate felt a strange feeling that came from time to time, a squinting in the socket where his right eye had been; like he was trying to see better, get things in focus. "What of?" Pirate said.

"I'm sorry?"

"Mr. Rollins. What did he die of?"

"It doesn't say."

Pirate tried to picture Mr. Rollins, estimate his age back then. He'd had graying hair, but that didn't necessarily mean . . .

Delusion
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by Peter Abrahams. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining crime thriller

    Two decades ago in a courtroom, Nell Jarreau dramatically testified that Alvin 'Pirate' DuPree murdered her boyfriend, Johnny Blanton wile she watched in horror. Pregnant with Johnny¿s offspring Nell married Clay, the chief detective on the homicide case, while Alvin went to prison. --- Twenty years later, due to the devastation of Hurricane Bernadine swamping Belle Ville, FEMA accidentally found tape evidence with a time code on it that affirms Alvin¿s alibi that he was at Nappy¿s Liquor Store. Nell is stunned as she is positive Alvin killed Johnny yet the evidence is otherwise conclusive. Clay, now the Belle Ville chief of police, cautions his wife to move on, but she is disturbed by her identifying an innocent man. The press has a field day as they dig into the Pirate¿s wrongful conviction case while Nell's daughter Norah seems even more negatively affected by the case than her. Guilt laden, Nell needs closure again so she decides to investigate. --- This is an entertaining crime thriller as readers wonder who killed Blanton if not Alvin. DuPree is a perfect ¿victim¿ as he is a nasty odious person who many in the audience will believe should remain incarcerated even if he did not commit the homicide as he probably did others anyway. Nell is the prime player, but she fails to come across as an amateur sleuth on an emotional quest to solve a cold case murder she witnessed. Still this is an enjoyable tale. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    As always - Abrahams thrills

    From his children's books to adult thrillers, Abrahams never disappoints. Yet another 'can't put it down' book from my favorite author. Pick this one up - and if you haven't read his others, grab those, too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2008

    Entertaining Enough

    A good novel, entertaining enough and lacking the confusing subterfuge of some of Abrahams' other work. Fans will like this one, though it's not his best. For those who have never read Peter Abrahams I would suggest more powerful works to start, such as The Tutor, Crying Wolf, or Oblivion

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