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Those of us who love genre fiction, particularly suspense and
thriller titles, come to a novel with a certain set of
expectations. Some of these are carried unconsciously, like the
house keys we place in our pockets or purses as we multitask
through a few other necessary chores. We don’t think about
them until they’re absent; the effect is then

Peter Abrahams is one of those disconcerting craftsmen who makes it
a practice to color outside of the lines, to rearrange the
furniture in the middle of the night so that toes are stubbed. What
he does --- and in some ways better than anyone else --- is drag
the fictional world kicking and screaming just a bit closer to our
own world, where too often we wonder about our friend, our
neighbor, why the heck he did that, and never get an answer.

Abrahams sets a new bar for himself in DELUSION, set in Belle
Ville, a fictitious southern Louisiana community (and I think
modeled roughly after the Northshore area, for those seeking a more
specific reference point) that is recovering from a deadly and
devastating hurricane. This storm is a metaphor throughout the
book, one that grows in importance, even in its aftermath, as the
story progresses.

Nell Jarreau is at the center of a domestic hurricane, which has
been calm, placid, even happy, though born out of tumult. Two
decades prior to the primary events of DELUSION, Nell was engaged
to Johnny Blanton, a geology major whose life was abruptly cut
short in front of Nell when he was viciously murdered. Nell’s
eyewitness testimony was instrumental in convicting Alvin DuPree
(later to become known as “Pirate”). Nell’s life
gradually regained some normalcy. Pregnant with Blanton’s
child at the time of the killing, she gave birth to a daughter whom
she named Norah and ultimately married Clay, the police detective
who investigated Blanton’s murder.

Nell’s life is turned upside down, however, when new evidence
is discovered that exonerates DuPree and results in his release
from prison. Innocence notwithstanding, DuPree is a complex and
frightening man; how much of his dark side was wrought in prison,
and prior thereto, we never really learn (how would one quantify
it, in any event?). He feels, not unreasonably, that he is owed
something, but it is not necessarily money. When DuPree returns,
everyone --- both within the novel and without --- waits for the

The question in DELUSION looms: If DuPree did not murder Blanton,
then who did? And why? The obvious answers are not so obvious; and
as they are slowly revealed, one by one, Nell and Clay’s
marriage, like the case against DuPree, begins to quietly
disintegrate. Nell is unable to let the matter lie, even as those
around her, including her husband, quietly warn her away. The
ultimate answers are layered, complex and, of course,

The conclusion is quietly shocking, especially when one considers
the potential implications of them in all of their glory. Abrahams
is well-acquainted with the complexities and unpredictability of
human nature and emotions. DELUSION continues his exploration into
those dark and uncharted waters.


Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 29, 2010

by Peter Abrahams

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0061137995
  • ISBN-13: 9780061137990