Jule West Williams truly does contain multitudes. It’s normal—expected, really—for an eighteen-year-old not to know exactly who she is, but Jule doesn’t have enough passports for her different aliases (and she has four passports.) Her friend Imogen Sokoloff, on the other hand, could hardly be surer of herself; an impulsive, charming heiress whose suicide note has just been discovered in her bread box.
The story is told backwards, which initially doesn’t lend itself to the fastest of reading, as it moves between US cities, Mexico and London, and a cast of characters enter the scene. But as details emerge and events come into focus, the plot narrows and sharpens, and unease becomes something closer to horror.
Jule, like all good protagonists, surprises—and then she shocks. She is ruthless, resourceful and strong and, refreshingly, is not afraid of it. She relishes it. With the layers of duplicity and impersonation, one of the more complex points of Genuine Fraud is when Jule begins to question her own identity. It’s an idea that is not delved into as deep as it could be; the action here is external rather than interior. It’s difficult to connect with Jule because of this, and although she is forced to change so outwardly, by the end of the book it seems that her character and personality have been reinforced rather than evolved.
What Lockhart delivers is a pacey thriller with a protagonist who considers herself a superhero but is really becoming a formidable villain. Think Talented Mr. Ripley meets a Gossip Girl that doesn’t quite give away all her secrets.