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Cover of The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte
June 2019

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The Perfect Fraud

A Novel
Ellen LaCorte

In this propulsive debut thriller, two women with deep secrets are thrown together by an unexpected meeting that plunges both their lives into chaos. But it’s a sick little girl whose fate hangs in the balance.

Motherhood is tough. But then, so is daughterhood. When we first meet Claire, she’s living in Sedona, Arizona, with her boyfriend, Cal, and ducking calls from her mother. Her mom is a world-class psychic on the East Coast, and Claire doesn’t want her to discover the truth: Claire works in the family business and calls herself a psychic, but she doesn’t really have “the gift” and hasn’t for a long time. She’s a fraud.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Rena, a young mother, has family issues of her own. She’s divorced, and her 4-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, their carefully constructed lives begin to explode. Can these two women help each other, and can they help Stephanie before it’s too late?


Ellen LaCorte earned a master's degree in English (1988) and a doctorate in education (1994) at ASU.

Praise for this book

“Mysticism and medicine intersect with dramatic results in LaCorte’s accomplished page-turning debut. ... Those who like a dash of the supernatural in their thrillers will be well satisfied.”

Publishers Weekly

“This is a dark, dark thriller, and the villain is absolute. But alternating voices allow for a more nuanced building of tension …. LaCorte delves deeply into horrible things that humans do—and, as in life, not all evil is punished—but still offers hope and healing in the end.”

Kirkus Reviews