His wife, Patty, sticks her head in the shop door. Memory lane will have to wait. The old market gunners, hunting to fill barrels with birds to ship to Baltimore and Philadelphia, employed sinkboxes that enabled a hunter to lie, literally, below the surface of the water. In the coldest weather, bushwhackers used a specialized boat, painted white and outfitted with a white canvas curtain at the bow, to look like floating ice. After sinkboxes were outlawed in , hunters developed the body-booting technique, a hunting tactic with seemingly masochistic overtones.
Squirming into full-body survival suits, they stood in the tidal waters sans a blind, often up to their necks, hiding behind oversize goose and swan silhouettes outfitted with a small shelf to hold a shotgun. All those hunting methods required decoys, and a lot of them. In the s and s, as many as two dozen carvers operated in and near Havre de Grace, according to Kerri Kneisley, executive director of the impressive Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, and today, the small city of about 14, is the self-proclaimed Decoy Capital of the World.
He was an accidental patriarch. An undertaker by trade, Mitchell was helping a cousin whittle decoy heads when the cousin died in with unfilled orders for fourteen hundred decoys. Mitchell recognized an opportunity. He built a shop behind his funeral home and installed a lathe and a belt sander. The shop soon evolved into a gathering place in Havre de Grace, where a small community of folks would carve or paint for Mitchell on weekends and after work. Harry Jobes spent many hours at the Mitchell shop, and many a visit with his young sons in tow.
Charles remembers there was always a handful of men sanding, puttying, and painting decoys, and carving heads. The young boy was infatuated with the entire process. Harry struck out on his own in the late s. Mitchell sold his shop in ; its entire contents have since been moved and reconstructed inside the decoy museum. Charles and Joey worked with their father when they were so little they had to stand on blocks of wood to reach the workbench.
My dad had a ball and chain around our legs, and a whip, and he kept us in the shop all the time. People laugh at that. It was fun, but we never knew any different. The two younger brothers did their homework in the shop every night, spreading books out on the workbench between unfinished goose heads and roughed-out canvasback bodies.
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They worked together as Jobes Brothers Decoys full-time for nearly fifteen years. In , Charles decided to make a solo run at decoy carving. There was no social media, no Twitter, no Etsy. How the hell is this going to work out? Holding on to the stick-up, an oversize goose silhouette mounted to a metal stake, I can move and pivot with the gun, almost like floating in a zero-gravity chamber.
A few feet away, perhaps half a dozen decoys over, Charles scans the skies above the Susquehanna Flats. Dozens of wood and cork duck and goose decoys ride the chop.
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Three other hunters are overboard, too, bundled up in long underwear, insulated coveralls, sweatshirts, and survival suits. I can see the tender boat, where there is hot coffee, a heater, and another shift of hunters waiting for us to cry uncle, anchored a few hundred yards downwind. Earlier, when we were motoring out to the flats in Bay Prowler , a crabbing boat, the skies were alarmingly empty of birds.
Now, as sunlight warms the bay and ice sheets crackle and drift, the hunt comes to life. Ducks stream in from broad Mill Creek to the north, beelining toward the decoys. And then come the geese. Charles hammers the birds with honks and clucks and deep, plaintive moans. When they dip low over the water, we know we have them.
The birds pull up twenty yards away, wings backflapping, feet out for the landing, and we rise from the silhouettes to fire. Geese tumble to the water. Just before my stint is up, I look out over the spread, ducks and geese rocking in the water. I hold up a Charles Jobes Canada goose decoy. Skim ice clings to its upswept tail, a signature feature of Havre de Grace decoys. Earlier, Charles pointed out a few details that help identify his particular style of goose. A delicate depression around each eye. In his shop, before the hunt, Charles showed me a goose decoy he particularly treasures.
When his Labrador retriever, Chester, passed away in , Charles bored a two-inch hole in the bottom of the decoy, filled it with the ashes of his old companion, and capped it with a dowel. He puts it in the water on every hunt. The remains of that process skim-coat every surface in his shop, like dust in an attic that no one has visited in decades. Except Charles is here, working, nearly every day of his life. Hundreds of hand tools hang from racks, oyster jars cling to the ceiling like bats, filled with nails and tacks, the lids screwed to bare Sheetrock.
Laundry baskets of finished heads are pushed against a wall. Charles pulls out a Garcia y Vega cigar box. Inside are the patterns for the miniatures and half-size decoys he and Bobby made for years, skittish at first about producing full-size decoys in competition with their father. Tacked and stuck everywhere is the Charles Jobes version of an Excel spreadsheet: According to Kneisley, the museum director, this very act of watching a decoy carver work the wood reflects how the art has survived from generation to generation.
Fewer than a handful of full-time carvers remain in Havre de Grace. The Jobes brothers make up nearly half the lot. I watch as Charles carves a decoy head, reading glasses perched on his nose. There seems to be no end to the work. See all 4 questions about Believe Me…. Lists with This Book. Jul 17, Deanna rated it really liked it Shelves: My reviews can also be seen at: The author states that: America is her second chance. She has a scholarship for an Actors Studio course, but it only pays tuition, not living expenses.
She is allowed to work on campus but those jobs are few and far between. Claire will do anything to keep acting… Then she gets an opportunity to work for a divorce attorney. Her ability to act, to become someone else came from how she grew up. Most of the time she feels like the husbands have it coming.
Although sometimes she feels a little disgusted by what she does. Claire is resilient and cunning, but can she do what she needs to finish this assignment? I thought this was a really engrossing read and I had a hard time putting it down. Congeniality, but I was intrigued by them. In fact, I liked not knowing who I could trust. Overall, I found this to be quite an entertaining psychological thriller.
The story had some great twists and turns, leading up to an intense and gripping ending that I never saw coming! I'd like to thank Ballantine Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest revi View all 53 comments. What a crazy ride this book was! This book sucked me in from the very first page Claire I might need to crown you the most unreliable narrator of them all!
J P Delaney for writing such a unique and twisted thriller!
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Claire is a struggling British actress living in New York without a green card Claire being resourceful and an act 4. Claire being resourceful and an actress begins working for a divorce lawyer and becomes a decoy One of the wives she was working for ends up murdered This was an enthralling story that left me not trusting anybody! I thought it was so uniquely told I loved the script aspects I loved all the psychology and the criminal profiling The poetry discussed in this book will probably resonate with others more than me This was a group read and fortunately my fellow sisters were kind enough not to make me feel stupid when I excitedly told them that Baudelaire was a real live poet!
The twists in this book they keep coming View all 46 comments. Jul 07, Paromjit rated it really liked it Shelves: J P Delaney follows up the bestselling The Girl Before with this dark, and twisted psychological thriller set in New York with the starring role played by British actress, Claire Wright. Claire is attending a prestigious acting course that she came to NYC for. She is perennially short of money, behind in her rent money to Jess, whom she shares a Manhattan apartment with. Claire is forbidden to take up legitimate work as she lacks the green card to do so.
She ends up working off the books, cash o J P Delaney follows up the bestselling The Girl Before with this dark, and twisted psychological thriller set in New York with the starring role played by British actress, Claire Wright. She ends up working off the books, cash only for the law firm, Kerr and Adler, with their ex-cop investigator, Henry, filming married men coming on to her for their wives who have become suspicious of them.
Every man falls for Claire until she meets Patrick Fogler, whose wife, Stella, she had met earlier. Academic Patrick Fogler is an expert on and obsessed with Charles Baudelaire, more specifically the poems within Les Fleurs du Mal The Flowers of Evil with content that touches on the dark and unseemly side of sexual relationships. Patrick refuses Claire's open advances but later that night, Stella is found brutally murdered in her hotel room. Claire loses her job, but is offered an opportunity to entrap Patrick by NYPD cop Frank Durban and Forensic Psychologist, Dr Kathryn Latham who believe Patrick is guilty of murdering his wife and 8 prostitutes that they know of in his life.
Scenes of Claire in her acting classes demonstrate just how good an actress she is. She sees this as a role that offers her the opportunity to get the much desired green card, and besides she can do this. It's a job with different rules from the usual of being an actress, but it requires the same skills and the same process. However, nothing is as it seems, is Patrick the real target? For the reader it is like falling into a dark rabbit hole with Claire, the unreliable narrator, can she be trusted on anything?
And what are the Baudelaire connections to Necropolis. Claire is falling in love with Patrick, willing to go wherever he leads, uncaring of how dark that territory may turn out to be, in fact, the darker and more dangerous, the better, all the time approaching all that she encounters with the line, what can I use from that? Delaney writes a story with the kind of twists that make it difficult to predict where the novel will end up.
It is a beautifully written story, with Claire, a central character who is hard to get a grip on as we wonder if there is anything we can trust about her at all? At the same time, I find myself unable to trust Patrick at all. I can see this providing the requisitely compelling material for a film! This is an entertaining and thrilling read, albeit you do have to suspend your sense of disbelief at times. Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC. View all 24 comments. Good, I'm glad to know it's not just me.
Can we all give a round of applause for the wonderful libraries acros 4. Can we all give a round of applause for the wonderful libraries across the globe and the wonderful people who work at them? Quite frequently I find myself craving a good trashy novel I mean that as the highest compliment, truly , and this wacky, wonderfully suspenseful story was deliciously wicked in all the right ways. I feel I need to state right off the bat that I can understand why this book doesn't work for everyone.
It is indeed very bizarre, unrealistic, and filled with despicable characters. When I say this book was wackadoodle, what I mean is that there aren't any words in the english language that can do justice to just how over the top this tale was. For me as a reader, and what I was searching for to fill my reading tank at the moment, it ticked all the right boxes. I hate to really say anything about the plot, because it is complex and ever changing throughout, but also because you really want to go in blind to be surprised at all the right places.
Beware reader, you may receive major whiplash from all the twists and turns, but it was precisely this aspect that kept the pages turning so quickly. If you enjoy racy, compulsive, and fantastical thrillers, this one is for you. It's the perfect read when you're needing something to blow through in a very short time period. View all 20 comments. Apr 18, Debra rated it it was ok Shelves: Believe me when I say, this was not my cup of tea. Claire is a struggling actor looking for work.
Her one main obstacle is that she British living in the United States without a green card. This makes getting a job quite difficult and one does need money to survive. She finds a job which will pay her cash. She works as a decoy, hired to entrap cheating spouses on tape. There are rules that need to be followed, the spouse withe the wandering eye needs to proposition her, and she needs to get it al Believe me when I say, this was not my cup of tea.
There are rules that need to be followed, the spouse withe the wandering eye needs to proposition her, and she needs to get it all on tape. Then one day, the wife of a suspected cheater is found murdered. The police believe her husband is to blame and have Claire help them get his confession. The premise of this book sounded extremely interesting to me. Like a cat and mouse book where one often questions just who the good guy is and who is the bad guy.
I so wanted to enjoy this, and I will say that I did enjoy it in the beginning and then things went downhill for me. I found myself losing interest and didn't really care who was telling the truth, who wasn't, who was acting, who wasn't, etc. I enjoyed the Author's other book "The girl Before" and was hoping to be blown away by this book as I was by that book. Sadly, I just did not connect with this book. Yes, it is well-written, but I just didn't care about any of the characters to even care what happened to them.
There are some twists and turns along the way with lots of lies, deceptions and revelations. Even with the twist and turns I was underwhelmed by this book. I may be in the minority on this one but it just felt flat to me. At times this book is written like a play or maybe a script in keeping with the part of Claire being an actress and giving performance.
The Author does note publishing this book years ago, then re-wrote it after "The Girl Before" became a best seller. Thank you to Random House Publishing-Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
See more of my Reviews at www. View all 29 comments. Jul 24, Christina - Traveling Sister rated it it was amazing Shelves: All opinions presented are my own. Let me start this off by saying: This grabs the readers attention right out of the gate and doesn't let you go until l Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This grabs the readers attention right out of the gate and doesn't let you go until literally, the last sentence.
I am a marionette and Delaney was pulling my strings from the first sentence to the last. THIS, is a master class in thriller writing. For all of the moving parts of this story absolutely nothing fell flat for me. It's been a hard time coming, but I've really come around to structural changes to your typical story telling when done right. Delaney truly created something wholly unique here. We only have one POV Claire however, she views her life as a movie and we switch between traditional story-telling and script writing.
I had originally and right away been turned off by this. For me, the goal of every book is to enter what I call the "reading zone" but what many call "deep reading" and when you really shake things up with formatting it can be hard to drop into. I'd say this took me about I'm only somewhat familiar with scripts having read a few for my dad who free-lances B-movies on the side and so I was a bit wary of this.
However, Delaney executed it in a way even someone entirely unfamiliar with this format could enjoy. It not only added to the suspense and broke up the novel a bit but it further aided to the excellent character development. The focus is on the development of the mystery instead of the characters. However, Delaney didn't falter here one bit. The girl lies naked, sensuously sprawled, Her limbs spread wide to curious eyes; Her secret places shamelessly exposed Poetry due to the overarching theme of Baudelaire is interspersed throughout with the scripting.
I'm honestly really picky about poetry but it was utilized in a way that really created some seriously sinister undertones here. I think Delaney used so many clever techniques throughout the story and it created a very unique, anxiety and character driven psychological thriller this is just one of many examples. Sometimes, when you wear a mask too long, you find it sticks to the skin. The use of red herrings here made me understand why so many authors implement these.
Why they are so important and how they are properly used. I absolutely loved the implementation of psychology as well and that it was for the most part correctly used. I only have my bachelors in this field of study but I do have a very dear friend who has Histrionic Personality Disorder so this aspect really appealed to me, especially since it was accurately portrayed. So much of mental health is misused and misunderstood and I appreciate that Delaney clearly did the research here.
I completed this as a Traveling Sisters group read and what a true and fun joy it was! Thank you ladies for such an enjoyable read and so many fun discussions! This would easily fit well into any book club out there! Are you looking at reading this book? To say the least, it's easily a 10 out of 10 for me. I don't want to do a synopsis because Delaney does that expertly - don't try to give anything away because this was a wild and truly fun ride from start to finish. View all 28 comments. Sep 06, Crumb rated it it was amazing. Sick, Twisted, and Utterly Captivating. Claire is an accomplished actress, one of the best in her class.
She identifies as an "actress. But, what happens when the line between fantasy and reality blur? What happens when Claire gets too deep in her role? And what happens when Claire loses sight of herself.. When she can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction? This was a beast of a thriller. It was everything I had hoped and more. I am always a little hesitant to Sick, Twisted, and Utterly Captivating.
I am always a little hesitant to read a book that is receiving a load of hype, but I am happy to say that this book stands firm against its reputation. This mind bender sent my brain into a psychological fury. I couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't - It was almost as if the protagonist had climbed inside my mind and began turning somersaults. I also can't express how much I love unreliable narrators.
They can either make or break a story. In this case, it only enlivened the novel even more. As for my rating, I am always weary about giving a psychological thriller five stars. There are just so many out there, and the competition is fierce. It really has to have that "something, something" that pushes it over the edge. This one had it, but I can't quite explain what it was, and perhaps that is what made it so special.
View all comments. Sep 15, A dark and twisted thriller that lured me into the story and captured my thoughts until the very last page! There is no one in the psychological thriller genre who can write such captivating, loathsome, alluring characters as well as J. Earlier this year I was enthralled by his last book, The Girl Before. This one is somehow even better. I could not separate myself from this book. Everything about it was so carefully crafted, from the story to the characters to the writing techniques A dark and twisted thriller that lured me into the story and captured my thoughts until the very last page!
Everything about it was so carefully crafted, from the story to the characters to the writing techniques. And what to say about those twists!?! I read this with a group of my traveling sisters and because we were always at very slightly different points in the book, our opinions and theories kept misaligning in a good way. That is how often Delaney has you rethinking everything in this book! Nearly every chapter led me in a different direction.
Struggling to live her dream, Claire finds some unconventional work ensnaring cheating husbands for a divorce firm. Claire always follows the rules Always let them be the one to proposition you. Claire has never struggled to seduce men. She finds this is a job she was made for. Claire goes undercover, but finds herself confused as she gets to know him. At what point does the mask we put on become who we really are? Reflection In college I was a double major in literature and psychology. Though in my doctoral degree I chose to pursue psychology, literature has a very special place in my heart.
This book is heavily crafted around Baudelaire and so I was immediately drawn in. One thing I always remember about studying Baudelaire was his passion for contrast. Highlighting the incredible beauty of the grotesque and challenging our sense of propriety. Baudelaire pushed boundaries beyond many poets and writers of his day. His poems tend to leave me breathless. They leave me mesmerized but disgusted. The beauty of his words and verse contrasted with the dark imagery are really something to behold. But I always think of Baudelaire as testing people.
Showing people that they can actually be attracted to things that horrify them.
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I am absolutely captivated by this story. I found it interesting that Delaney actually did the translations for this book himself. They are incredibly good translations! I am in awe of Delaney for the skill it took to craft such great translations. The inspiration for this book is the work of Baudelaire, and to capture that essence of his writing for an audience that has less knowledge of him is incredible. This book really plays with the line between reality and fiction.
Claire is an actress and early in her career she learned the difference between pretending and acting. To act, she learns, you have to feel what the character is feeling. You have to let a part of yourself become the character. And then, as she learns throughout the book, it can be difficult to tell when you are acting and you have become the character. I loved reading about Claire, both in what she acknowledges, as well as what Delaney allows us to see as observers of her story. And then there is a strong theme of trust and deception.
Many of the characters in this book talk about trust. It becomes central to every element of the story. The most fascinating use of this theme is in the way that characters are unsure whether they are deceiving not only others, but themselves. The characters have so much introspection, despite how narcissistic they are. Like Baudelaire, the contrasts and paradoxes are the beauty in this book. A character might be both strong and fragile, honest and deceitful, alluring and repulsive.
A character may both desire the spotlight but spend their life hiding. A character may be trusting and mistrusting. These contrasts kept me on my toes. Because sooner or later, the deception always falls apart. When Delaney went to republish it following his recent success with The Girl Before which you should really go read , he felt that there were flaws in the original work.
Delaney, I did not read the original version of this book, but I would like to go on record saying that this recreation of your original idea is a true masterpiece.
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This book is pure chaos and terror and love and torture and poetry. See my blog for more: Delaney for my advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. View all 66 comments. Well if you are looking for a thriller than will shock you at every turn This book was so full of surprises and twists that I was in danger of getting whiplash, Claire is a young actress from England now living in New York City looking for her big break!
She attends acting school yet is always in need of money to continue school Only one assignment may be more than Well if you are looking for a thriller than will shock you at every turn Only one assignment may be more than she can handle. Will she survive to act another day An absolute fast and furious read! And what is fiction? This book will keep you guessing right up until the very end.
A buddy read with Susanne! For an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Jul 24, Melisa rated it really liked it. Holy smokes, the twists and the turns and the turns and more twists. As a former acting student of a studio in New York City, this one was super relatable. I loved hearing all about the acting exercises and techniques that I once studied. Her background casts a unique perspective on how the author has taken these topics and melded them into a fresh, fast paced psychological thriller.
This was a Traveling Sisters group read, and we were a slightly split group on this one. Always enjoy reading the perspectives from my fellow reviewers. This book is available today! View all 36 comments. Jul 26, Rose Traveling Sister rated it liked it Shelves: Right in the middle.
I tore through this at lightning speed but was hearing circus music the entire time because it was cockamamie AF. Last night, I did exactly two things: She is excruciatingly self-absorbed, often narrates in stage direction, and throws herself into each project. Lately, her project is getting married men to agree to affairs. After one of these wives is found murdered, things come unglued. One of those elements is the use of script excerpts to drive the narrative.
This was a very smart way to illustrate how the outcome of every conversation hangs on each individual exchange. Every sentence and every reaction has the potential to go very well or very badly, depending on how it is received and interpreted. Also, I enjoyed the way tragedy and comedy come into play.
There was not a single character that I truly liked. Being stuck with Claire was a drain. These felt like clever devices at first, but they quickly became heavy-handed and obvious. Yes, my dude, I get it. The timeline was also wack. A lot of my GR friends really loved this one, and I can see why.
View all 25 comments. Apr 25, j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled] rated it really liked it Shelves: The plot had me second guessing my way through. I have a hard time understanding why the author actual name: Tony Strong wants to throw in everything he knows about his subject. He overshot that line of believability and my five star rating dropped to a four. This novel is mostly set in the theater world and our main character, Claire, is a young actress trying to make a living in NYC and eager to do anything to pay her rent.
I think Claire is one of my most favorite unreliable narrators in recent memory. She's not a drunk or a sociopath or is she? The performance aspect of her personality is a refreshingly innovative way to style an unreliable narrator! Talk about "method actor method actor method actor". Some scenes come alive in Claire's head in the form of an actual written play. At first this can be confusing, but you'll catch on quickly. When she gets into serious trouble by being accused of murder, the real fun begins! This is a cat and mouse game with lots of twists.
It's a dark and addictive book, just know an over the top ending is waiting for you! Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book before publication on July 24, All opinions are mine. Jul 25, Meredith B. My mind is totally blown right now. I devoured this book in a matter of hours and I just could not get enough of it! This was my first J. Delaney yes i know, I need to read the Girl Before but wow this did not let me down! The opening scene of this book is a big BOOM. Claire is an aspiring actor, an also an immigrant from London without a Green card, that is just trying to make rent.
In order to make rent she may have to do some questionable things. And Where are you from Claire? I'm trying to place that accent. I never met a girl there before. What's the most you've ever paid a woman, Rick? Five hundred but that was -- Double it. What's your Room Number? I'll knock on the door in five minutes. Don't make eye contact with the concierge. I know what you're thinking, Claire's method's come off a certain way but I'll tell you that what you're thinking is not AT ALL what happens.
You'll have to read to find out more. Through Claire's "profession" and best way to make money, she gets herself into some trouble. She literally puts her life on the line in order to get the job done. One day, Claire is asked to work on a recent murder case and try to have the husband of the wife confess that he was the one who killed her. Claire does this in exchange for money and a green card.
They make a completely new identity for Claire and she quite literally has been given the role of a lifetime Reading through this book I had no idea where it was going to go.
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The author did a phenomenal job at tricking me into thinking that at different points different people had killed the wife. I also doubted at times if Claire could have been dreaming or if she was hallucinating some of the things she described. There were also points that I questioned, Is she just this great at acting?