The Fake by Zoe Whittall is about a con artist who insinuates herself into the lives of two lonely, vulnerable people, testing them to see how much they will trust and sacrifice for her. Ultimately, it’s about how people project what they need onto others and ignore signs that they don’t want to see.
Why I picked it up: I don’t remember where I read about The Fake. I read Whittall’s earlier book, The Best Kind Of People, and I was intrigued by the premise of this one.
Gibson has recently gotten divorced, and is living a lonely bachelor life in Toronto. He used to miss his wife, but he’s starting to get over her. Shelby, meanwhile, has lost her wife to cancer. She is also desperately lonely, but has no desire to socialize or be with others. She meets Cammie at a grief support group, which Cammie attends to deal with losing her sister, while Gibson meets Cammie at a bar. Before long, Cammie and Gibson are dating, and Shelby has a new best friend. Although there are warning signs that Gibson and Shelby both pick up on, they stubbornly forge ahead, letting Cammie fill the voids in their lives and looking the other way when things don’t add up.
The Fake is sort of an odd book. You basically know what is happening, and you have an idea of how it will end, but it’s hard to look away. So it’s not really a thriller, but more of a psychological study of how these types of relationships develop, and how they ultimately end. It’s an engaging, short, character-driven story that I enjoyed but haven’t thought much about since I read it a few weeks ago.
The Fake was the 29th book of 2023.